The dark side of Good Bad Bugs (though not necessarily mutually exclusive) and a Griefer's favorite variety, Game Breaking Bugs are severe bugs that cripple your ability to play the game involved. They’re almost as old as gaming itself.
Game-Breaking Bugs were more prevalent in the earlier days of gaming. Many games that were made after The Nineties seem so much easier because of the reduction in such bugs on average. It was also The Problem with Licensed Games incarnate, since several licensed games actually may not have been as bad as many people say they were... if not for game breaking bugs that slipped past the beta testings (if there were any) and made them literally unplayable or Nintendo Hard.
In these days of mainstream, multi-million dollar titles, developers seem to favor release dates over thorough quality assurance. With the advent of integrated network play, developers also seem to favor releasing patch after patch (if they even bother) and treat their paying customers as unpaid testers. The flaw with this approach is that it alienates a sizable chunk of gamers (in this case, gamers who live in a house without a high-speed internet connection). That, and it's technically illegal in most jurisdictions, anyway.
The growing prevalence of Wreaking Havok (especially in the context of facilitating emergent gameplay) can often cause essential game entities to be launched or pushed into places outside the player's reach or destroyed through unexpected methods. The sheer number of possible outcomes makes this type of game breaking impossible to fully prevent and even the few games lauded for their stability have an occasional hiccup for which the developers can only suggest reloading a saved game.
Note that the presence of one of these doesn't necessarily make the game itself bad; many programs have been quite entertaining despite horrible bugs. One should also probably keep in mind that a lot of bugs only occur in certain builds of the game. In today's market, where even console games can be patched, it's incredibly rare to have a game-killing glitch maintain itself for very long.
The very worst of these can cause a game to be Unwinnable by Mistake no matter what the player does (except, possibly through a counteracting Good Bad Bug). Bugs that always happen at the same point of an Endless Game are known as Kill Screens. Not necessarily the same as a Game Breaker that results from a programming bug; those are typically Good Bad Bugs, which are harmless, but examples of ones that use Game-Breaking Bugs exist; read on...
Enter the Matrix for the original Xbox would sometimes BSOD the console right before a boss (in the mansion), and sometimes you could reset the game, even from playing again from start, and still get that BSOD every single time. Also, the game would sometimes freeze after the helicopter scene, triggered by an unknown glitch earlier in the game that would affect all subsequent saves.
Twilight Princess was impossible to finish if the player saved and quit at the wrong time after crossing a bridge which subsequently gets broken. A required character would also turn invisible if the player saved and quit in the wrong area. He could still be utilized, so the game was not unbeatable, but this was still a frustrating bug.
In the original copies of the Wii version of the game, the aforementioned required character was outside the room behind a sealed door, in which case it actually was unwinnable.
In Link's Awakening, you can buy a shovel, then trade it for a boomerang. However, at that point, you can buy a second shovel, leaving you with both. Since the game's inventory is limited to exactly how many items you're actually supposed to pick up, carrying both shovel and 'rang leaves you unable to pick up the last item in the game, which of course is required to win. Oops. So you try to solve the problem by wasting all of your Magic Powder to free up that one extra space in your inventory. Now you can grab that final item! In turn, however, this does render the Final Nightmare's first form literally impossible to beat. Double oops. (The Oracle games, which play very similarly to Link's Awakening, including having an item system that works about the same way, avert this by seemingly having been made with the staff aware of this bug; this pair of games actually has enough spaces that several will never be filled, even when no items are equipped and everything is filling a slot.)
In the Eagle's Tower, if you must save and quit before smashing the four pillars, then for Nayru's sake throw the orb used to smash the pillars down a pit. If you don't, it will be erased and the dungeon won't be winnable.
Ocarina of Time features the famous "bottle trick," which lets you turn any item in your inventory into a bottle. If used on a useless item, such as the Goron Check Claim after you've claimed the Biggoron Sword or the Magic Beans after you've planted them all, you get an extra bottle you can use to store useful items. But it's possible to turn any item into a bottle — and if you do this to a game-crucial item? Good luck completing the game! This one treads the line between Game Breaking Bug and Good Bad Bugs. You can also do the same in Majora's Mask, if you press Start at the exact right time when selling a bottled item to the curiosity shop, then change which item is in the C button slot. You can replace anything with an empty bottle that way.
Also in Ocarina, you can freeze the game in the Gerudo's Fortress if you push the Ocarina button right when they spot you.
There's a glitch where you can equip the Fierce Deity mask outside boss battles. If you try to talk to anyone, or do certain other things, it crashes the game.
You can also dive to the underwater chest in Termina Field in normal form, and the "Open" icon will appear. If you push the button, though, the game freezes.
In the game of hide and seek, it's possible for one of the children to run into a dead end that a guard won't allow you to enter.
Skyward Sword features a game breaker of its own—after completing the Thunder Dragon's portion of the song during the Song of the Hero quest, if you go and talk to Golo the Goron and have not started the other two quests yet, the event triggers will not happen and the game originally could not be completed until in early 2012 when Nintendo released a patching program on the Wii that downloads the patch and fixes save files.
The same game removed the Bottomless Pit fall damage, so that you would be teleported to the last normal solid ground you were standing on 'completely harmless'. The catch is that because of rushed collision detection in some areas, you can glitch through the scenery and fall through to a bottomless pit. However...you respawn 'on the "bottom" of the bottomless pit', which is mistaken by the game to be solid ground, triggering an infinite loop of falling, respawning, falling...Reset Button!
Among notable spots where this glitch is bound to happen, there is a certain miniboss bridge in the Sky Keep. You wouldn't want also to swim too near next to that tree roots in the Ancient Cistern, or clipping through walls whith the clawshots in the wrong place.
In The Wind Waker, if you jump slash on top of the chest in one of the ghost ships, the game freezes.
As did Puyo Puyo 15th Anniversary — the game stopped saving after 255 auto-saves. This got fixed in a re-release of the game, however.
Psychonauts: There is a rare glitch where your Cobweb Duster will disappear from your inventory. Normally an optional device for just collecting mental cobwebs, the route into the final level happens to have three cobwebs impeding your progress, and requires the Duster to take them out. If your Duster disappears, then you could just go back to the shop, collect ludicrous amounts of money, and buy a new one...if you weren't at the Point of No Return (as the game literally calls it) and incapable of returning to camp in order to do so. At least the game autosaves just before you hit the Point of No Return. Of course, you still have to fight against the same boss again.
During the last level, you need to climb on flaming grates and jump between them. Occasionally, your Double Jump disables itself, causing you to fall into the water and die. Although this is commonly thought to be a bug unique to this area, it's just a bit of somewhat sloppy programming; when jumping across from a grate, your double jump works, but when dropping down from one (such as if you want to reach the platform below), it is disabled because there's a special animation for that. The game sometimes has trouble telling which is which, but it's only life-threatening here.
Infamously, in Sphinx And The Cursed Mummy, if you use the second save point during your second visit to Castle Uruk, and then load the game, you will be unable to complete the game, because the door you unlocked will somehow become locked again, with no way to unlock it. Nasty.
If you skip the cutscene after the first fight with Death in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, a glitch triggers where the fight never officially ends. As a result, once you leave the clock room, the door never opens again. If you head to the right to save, the door won't open again as stated above and thus the game is Unwinnable. Head left and you can keep going...but thanks to a flag not tripping, Vincent won't sell the Rampage subweapon, and 100% Completion becomes impossible. Thankfully the bug's been fixed in the PAL version of the game.
In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, when executing a special attack with some shortswords and knives, Soma briefly disappears and reappears behind an enemy... or even a locked door, as long as there is some space behind it. And since most of such doors have the pressure switch to open them right behind them, this can be used for major Sequence Breaking. But go somewhere you're not supposed to go yet (i.e. down a slope you're supposed to double-jump when you haven't acquired it yet) and save just before you realize it...whoops!
Metroid: Fusion has relatively few glitches, but one of them is severe: when you're finally able to fight the SA-X, its second form (which is usually a sitting duck) will become invincible if you shoot it with a fully-charged beam while it's transforming. Since the first form is very hard to get past, this is a really unfair glitch.
In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, you can render the game Unwinnable by triggering the floaty-jump glitch during the fight with Chykka, then using your glitched super-jump to leave the room. When you return, Chykka is gone, and he's taken the Dark Visor with him.
Similarly, the first North American version of Metroid Prime got careless with one of its Chozo Artifacts: you get the Artifact of Warrior by beating the Phazon Elite, but the door doesn't lock to make sure you do so. If you leave, save, and come back, the Elite and Artifact are gone for good, and you need all twelve Artifacts to win.
Metroid Prime also had a rather nasty bug unless you frequently saved your game. Sometimes when approaching a door, the game would just simply freeze and forced you to reset. If you hadn't saved a long time, sucks to be you. Luckily, the freezing bug was quite rare to the point where it wouldn't happen twice in the same play through.
There is a bug in Metroid: Other M as stated here, where a door becomes locked and unopenable after you get the ice beam. Nintendo is accepting mail-ins for save files.
Tomb Raider Legend had one of these in the England stage of the game. Activating the levers in the boss room of the stage, whilst passing through earlier on, will render the later boss fight unwinnable. The only choice at this point is to either hope you have a secondary save (unlikely), use a save game pack if playing the PC version, or start the game from scratch. This last choice is particularly annoying, since England is one of the last stages in the game.
Many players have encountered game-breaking bugs in Tomb Raider: Underworld at various points that prevent players from finishing the game, although a patch or two has cleaned them up a bit...Except for PS3 players, who don't get one.
Tomb Raider III has a potentially fatal bug in Lud's Gate; if you save too soon after throwing a switch in the water area with Secrets 5 and 6, a door may be blocked by an Invisible Wall, making the level Unwinnable or preventing you from obtaining the last secret.
Soul Reaver 2 has a glitch in the Sarafan Stronghold, after Moebius closes the gates to the tomb of William the Just. If you walk too close at one point in the gate, you pass through. You cannot leave, except by resetting.
The retail version of Overlord had a bug in the brewery area where, if you exited the area by any means (including save & quit) before repairing and using a wheel that activates the elevator to the lower floor, the parts needed to repair it would disappear and the game would become Unwinnable. It was later fixed in a patch that fortunately also made the parts reappear in already ruined saves.
There was also a nasty oversight in the first print run that made the uninstaller wipe out parts of the directory it wasn't supposed to. The patch to fix this is prominently included in later editions.
In Divine Divinity when one of the bosses died, the staff they're supposed to drop could get stuck in a wall. As this staff is needed to complete the game the game becomes Unwinnable. The only way to resolve this is load and earlier save and ensure the boss wasn't near a wall when they died.
The N64 version of Indiana Jones And The Infernal Machine had several, documented here (starting around 1/3 down the page). Bugs include random freezing possibly associated with a music loading error, getting stuck inside of objects and walls, getting stuck between objects, objects not functioning as they should due to unintentional Sequence Breaking, and a glitch that caused the player to enter the same room over and over again until they killed themselves to fix it.
There is one glitch where you can get the Lord Voldemort character token before getting all 200 Gold Bricks, but made it impossible to return to Hogwarts.
A particular example of a bug which renders the game impossible to win if you make the mistake of saving at the wrong time — Beneath one of the classrooms is a section you need to visit to collect unlockables. At the end of the section, a Lego dragon will grab you and toss you back up into the classroom to exit — Normally he will, anyway. Sometimes, he misses. At this point, he will not toss you again and you are permanently stuck. If you reset the game, you'll lose everything since your last save; if however you save and reset after this occurs, you might think the dragon will reset and toss you again, but no. At this point your save file is garbage and you will have to delete and start the entire game over if you want to continue.
An extremely nasty issue is present in the Wii version of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 in the Year 6 level "A Not So Merry Christmas" where the game can crash unexpectedly, especially during the second area outside. Some players haven't suffered from this issue at all, but it has been suggested to those that do to lower their video and audio settings in order to help avoid it.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is an incredibly buggy game. Falling through the scenery is very possible and the only way out is to restart the game.
On release, the game had bug with the tunnels. Ezio would be stuck in an endless loop when going through the tunnels. There was nothing that could be done save for starting the game from the beginning. Made even worse by the fact that you must use a tunnel in the game once. Players had to hope the bug didn't occur at that point. This bug however, was patched.
The multiplayer has become almost unplayable due to the recent flood of bugs. Players turning invisible or even invincible, Wanted gamemode not choosing a target and Manhunt rounds getting screwed up in one way or another. The servers are also exceptionally laggy, causing a lot of other game breaking problems.
Saving and exiting while playing as Desmond outside the Animus would result in being unable to reenter the Animus. Fortunately, this was also patched.
Batman: Arkham Asylum had a bug that randomly corrupts your savegame. The worst part is that it can be triggered by completing the story mode on 100%. Hundreds of puzzles, lost.
The Wii U version of Batman: Arkham City has a bug, too. On the second playthrough of Harley Quinn's Revenge, the autosave function will stop working and instead return the player to the menu screen, preventing them from getting past the first room.
Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2 for PC at one point has you progress by entering a cave, but your entry is blocked by interconnecting stalactites and stalagmites. Fortunately, there is a pile of unstable meteorites right in front of it, so you can lay down a thermal detonator and wait a few seconds for it to explode, clearing the way for you to proceed. Unfortunately, this pile of unstable meteorites will sometimes be located near the ceiling of this cave mouth, and not the floor. Thermal detonators can only be placed on the floor, and other explosive weapons like the rocket launcher have no effect on these meteorites. The only way to proceed is to either start a new save file and hope that the meteorites spawn on the floor this time around, or to use the cheat codes conveniently included in the game's readme file for just such an occasion - simply turn off clipping, fly through the barrier, and turn clipping back on again.
Shadow of the Colossus has a number of ponds littered about the game world for atmospheric purposes. However, if you climb up a structure near one and dive into one from sufficient height (not too difficult to do), the game simply freezes. Doing this on certain emulators—which are apparently more stable than the PS2 itself—causes you to be teleported into the middle of the sky. Suffice to say, once you finally make it to the ground, your death will be swift.
Ōkami has a tendency to unexpectedly crash during the first battle with Dogu enemies after you reach the Moon Cave 100 years in the past.
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time has a nasty bug that apparently makes two lines of code continuously conflict in the background while both attempt to resolve. Long story short, never use the Dynamo weapon in the Battleplex Arena fights, especially the ones that have re-spawning ammo crates. It can lead to crashing your PS3's operating system and causing a player to have to factory reset.
Also, unfortunately, some copies of the game crash during loading screens. The most common place for the game to constantly crash is during the loading screen right after the "...Dr. Nefarious!" cutscene with Clank.
An entire page could be spent listing the various game-breaking bugs in Hidden And Dangerous; fortunately, this got better with patches and an eventual free re-release.
Characters in vehicles often grew to twice their normal sizes, causing half their bodies to stick through the roofs. One mission featured a vehicle that had to be driven. It might be larger than the hole that this vehicle must pass through, forcing the player to cheat past the level.
If you ran out of ammunition, you fell through the ground.
The freeware version/latest patch introduces a new bug; some maps on Hard difficulty allow each enemy to empty every bullet in their magazine in one frame. The result is instant destruction of the boat containing your whole team. Affected missions are still winnable if you can kill all the enemies before they can attack.
The Game Boy Advance version of The Fellowship of the Ring was plagued with bugs. Most of them were merely agonizing, but there was one place where, in order to progress, you need to save the game during the Fade Out between scenes. If you time it wrong, you lose the save file.
X-Men Legends II: Too many items in your Hero Stash and it'll freeze upon taking out any Giant Mook. Keep it below 20.
Max Payne sometimes had a glitch on the final stage where the cutscene would fail to activate, resulting in Max firing a couple shots at Nicole and the game freezing. Reload.
Alternatively, Nicole could snag the wall next to the gate leading to the helicopter and stop. Max would then catch up and unload hundreds of bullets into the back of her head until you reloaded.
Final Zone II, at least on some copies, had a problem where a horrible buzzing sound would sometimes start after the intro cutscene and continue throughout the game. This may have been due to a defect in the CD.
The Cursed Crusade, at least on the Xbox 360, will corrupt your save if it crashes during a chapter load, preventing it from loading anything beyond the crash point.
In Alone In The Dark 2008, there is a sequence where you must drive a car from a building near Central Park all the way through some of the nearby streets in order to escape a gigantic fissure wreaking havoc on the city, however, during the very last part of the ride, a very nasty bug will sometimes prevent the map from correctly loading during the last jump, making you fall to your death and forcing you to repeat the whole driving sequence.
Hotline Miami: It is possible for dogs to somehow walk through a wall and get stuck in the void outside the level. There's no way to kill them when they're trapped like this, so, if the stuck dog is the last enemy alive, you cannot clear the level and there's no way to get killed (which is necessary to restart a level) either. You have to begin the entire chapter anew.
In King's Quest VII on the Kings Quest Collection XP verison 1.40 There is a game breaking glitch that can occur in chapter 3 if you have Valanice examine the cheese in the fountain in the town of Falderal. What will happen is the wooden nickel that's supposed to highlight at the Mockturtle store owner won't highlight and you're forced to start chapter 3 over. This can also happen with Rosella in Malicias house if you take too long and try to go out the back way you're stuck with Malicia zapping you every time and you're forced to start chapter 4 over.
In Laura Bow 2: Dagger of Amon Ra. There is an error 5 glitch that can crash your game that can happen in Act 5 with Mr. X chasing, when Laura opens the transom over the door and goes into the mummy room the game gives this error. Luckily you can bypass the error by just clicking on the transom window once. But remember to have an extra backup save or else your current save will keep crashing you out of the game.
In Faxanadu, the reward for beating dungeons are items which can be used to clear certain blockades or obstacles in certain screens. However, it disappeared after being used, and if you left the screen from the left side (probably to refill on health since the level layouts often sport monsters camping near ladders, from where you couldn't attack) the blockade would reappear, but the items would not respawn anymore even after beating the dungeons again, making the game unwinnable.
Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within featured a crippling bug at the end of Chapter 4 that would prevent the player from progressing to the next chapter.
The original Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness was originally rushed out, bugs and all. Most of them were fixed in one way or another, but by the time the dust had settled, a few remained:
The most infamous was the bane of gamers everywhere, Error 52. Midway through the game, thanks to issues in dealing with faster computers, one crucial area in the swamp became impossible to leave without crashing the game. QFG message boards then-and-forever had a new favorite topic.
This is also one of the few Sierra games that has a bug that occurs at the end of the game. When fighting Ad Avis, the hero has a staff that turns into a spear; this spear sometimes turns into the now dead Ad Avis about halfway back to the player character, who then kills our hero with a spell shot from a different area of the screen. This bug appears to occur randomly.
A variation of this glitch also occurs due to a bug in the game's timing. For some computers, the timer in the scene that determines how much time left the player has before Ad Avis will kill them will continue to keep running even if the player is speaking to Ad Avis or checking their inventory otherwise (which normally should've paused the game until either the dialogue box is closed or the inventory is closed otherwise). Depending on what the player was specifically doing at the time, either it will cause Ad Avis to quickly kill the player instantly, even if it interrupts a current action the player is doing at the time (such as while turning Erana's Staff into a spear) or, if killed, instantly revive himself just to kill the player, causing the game to assume as if the player was killed by Ad Avis in the first place. The glitch (both variants) can be seen in its entirety here.
Yet another QFG IV bug is the disappearance of the Domovoi after Day 5.
While the CD version fixed most of the bugs, it also introduced one particularly glaring one: as a wizard, after the final battle (won by using a certain spell on Ad Avis), using the Summon Staff spell to complete the game would actually render it unwinnable, as the game would not allow you to use the staff properly, and then time would run out, the Dark One would be summoned, and it's game over. The only way to get past this bug (which happens every time) is to cast the certain spell again, then summon the staff. But what most walkthroughs don't tell you is that if you cast the spell at certain specific places, the game will consider those casts as "misses" in the final battle, resummon Ad Avis, and have him kill you instantly. And those specific places cover more than half the screen.
The most memorable: As a Wizard, using your last Dispel Potion in the Lost City froze the game. Every time. The only way to bypass that point was to fight the monster that the Dispel Potion was meant to take care of for you, which for a Wizard was often lethal (it was a tough fight even for a Fighter.) And not being able to use the potion screwed you out of points, which made 100% completion impossible.
In the same line as Error 52, there's Error 4 that crash your game during the Simbani initiation.
King's Quest IV had a bug that only showed up on slower computers, thanks to the odd way in which the game calculated time for various characters. Rosella and all the other characters moved slowly because the computer wasn't fast enough to draw everything at full speed. The game was still playable, just slow. The one exception was the ogre, which used a more real-time timing method — he would travel across the screen in a certain number of seconds no matter how slow the computer was. In one plot point, Rosella is in the ogre's house and must reach the door before he caught her, only possible on PCs which ran the game at the intended speed. The only way around this was to take the saved game file to a faster computer and play that scene there.
Playing Eco Quest 2 on a computer that is too fast results in an '888.pal not found' error at a certain point in the game. This can be fixed by using a slowdown utility.
A devious glitch with the Text Parser in Leisure Suit Larry 2: Looking For Love (In Several Wrong Places) snuck into the game just the night before the game shipped: Near the end of the game, the player is expected to combine an airsick bag with a bottle (to make a Molotov cocktail, the bag serving as its wick). The only acceptable input was some variation of "put airsick bag in bottle", because a) the parser was (badly) written specifically to understand fully formed English phrases instead of "adventure game shorthand", b) a completely unrelated bug had just been fixed by another coder by turning the word "bag" into a verb and c) no one cared to fix it in time, because Sierra's testing policy at the time was to use the longest possible phrase in a situation and see if it works. Contrary to popular belief, the input does not require the word "the" several times; the point is that "airsick bag" works, whereas the common shorthand "bag" doesn't (since it's a verb).
Graphic adventure Simon the Sorcerer 2 had a strange bug where a certain character and the object you needed to give them were on the same screen, and you could successfully use the SCUMM-style interface to "Give <object> to <character>" despite <object> not being in your inventory. This skipped a large chunk of game and messed up many dependencies.
In The Curse of Monkey Island, one of the tasks on Blood Island requires you to pull some loose hair off a dog with your hand so it will bite you. If you try to cut it off with the scissors you get the Blue Screen Of Death.
In copies of the game that don't have this bug, Guybrush just mistakes your intention and chastises you for suggesting he harm an innocent dog.
Escape from Monkey Island has a nasty bug in the PC version of the game. At one point you're in a sushi restaurant, and you have to stick a fork in a track on a table to stop a sushi boat moving. This is intended to cause the chef to come out of the kitchen and if you are quick, you are able to grab something from the kitchen. In the PS2 version, this is fine. In the PC version, however, you can hear the chef say his dialogue before you've actually done this task, and far worse, when you've done it there is nowhere near enough time to go into the kitchen and get what you need before you get thrown out. The game was originally designed for Windows 98/2000/ME with certain graphics cards, anything more powerful will run the game but likely cause issues.
The PS2 version had a nasty (and seemly random glitch) that causes Guybrush to be permanently rooted to the spot and nothing seems to get him moving again.
The original 8-bit text adventure of The Hobbit was terminally bugged in early releases - among many weird glitches, Gollum would ask you riddles, but pay no attention to the answers, making it impossible to get the ring.
Grim Fandango had an elevator which the player needs to stop at a certain point. However, if you had a computer with a fast CPU, the elevator would move too fast to be stopped, and the player won't even realize stopping it is possible. This was luckily fixed with a patch.
In Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo, there is one point where you have to ride a log raft to the other side of the river. In the 1999 version, when you make it to the other side, if you simply click on the space where Putt-Putt gets off instead of going somewhere else, he starts talking. Skip it, and the raft disappears and it never comes back. You don't have anywhere to go either, so your only choice is to reset the game. This didn't exist on the 1995 version either.
The original Colossal Cave Adventure got ported to many, many systems. Somewhere along the way, one version picked up a couple of bugs, and then the bugged version got ported further by people who didn't check that the version they were copying could be completed. Several of them are potential game-breakers, but the simplest example is one of the many treasures you need to collect and store in order to unlock the endgame. The treasure is just lying in a remote chamber, and all you have to do is pick it up. In the bugged versions, typing "get spices" recieves the response "You can't be serious!" No spices means no endgame.
The adventure game Valhalla on the Spectrum, which had you as a minor Norse god trying to get into the titular Norse heaven by earning the favour of the other gods (specifically, by going on six quests to gain various items), had a limit on how many items could be in a location at once, which was enforced by a simple mechanism — if one item too many was dropped in a location, a NPC with the decidedly non-Nordic name of Klepto (Greek for "thief") would appear from nowhere, steal the item just dropped, and vanish, permanently removing the item from that game. Woe betide you if the item was a quest item which you needed to fulfill a later quest.
Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender had a well known bug: depending on difficulty level, the game would discourage or prohibit the player from flooding the city unless all necessary items had been collected from the city. The problem: it was possible to collect a repair item and use it for its intended purpose, whereupon it vanished. The player then couldn't proceed because they didn't have the item, even though it was no longer needed.
Remember that part about physics engines messing you up by sending important things flying where they're not supposed to go? Jazzpunk (I guess it fits here) has possibly the ultimate version of this: It's possible to accidentally launch yourself high in the air and land outside the field of play. Jim Sterling managed to do this in the first mission area and wound up on the street between the park and the sidewalk, unable to get back to either because of the fences.
Card Battle Game
The initial release of SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters DS had a fatal bug during its New Game+ mode where one opponent's dialogue wouldn't appear when spoken to and consequentially couldn't battle them. Since you needed to defeat everybody on a floor to move on, that's as far as you could go. After the glitch was discovered, you could send SNK Playmore your bugged copy for a fixed one.
Yu-Gi-Oh!: Nightmare Troubadour has a glitch that can cause Pegasus to disappear from the game after a certain point, rendering 100% Completion impossible.
Likewise, if a certain percentage of your duels in Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Eternal Duelist Soul end in losses, Yugi's grandfather (who is called "Trusdale" in this game) will never be unlocked, even if you fulfill the requirements. And if you manage to avoid this the first time around, you still should just reset the game if you ever lose, because even after you unlock him, if you ever reach that ratio of losses, he will disappear.
Magic: The Gathering occasionally releases a card that has to be reworded after printing because they either cause infinite loops or don't work for whatever reason.
There was even one card (Fatespinner) that was fairly mundane by the game's standards, calling on the opponent to pick a handicap each time they got a turn. The problem? When the card was first added to the online version of the game, it didn't provide them with a way to resolve that decision, and they could do nothing but wait for their time to run out and automatically lose. Needless to say, decks built around doing nothing but getting that card into play became wildly popular over the next few days to the point that they had to ban the card online until they could fix it.
Floral Spuzzem: The original wording of the card effect was that the Floral Spuzzem itself (not the player) got to decide which card got targeted by its effect. Guess how long you'd have to wait until a piece of cardboard spoke up to give you its opinion on the matter?
Forza Motorsport 4 had a bug in online player where players may hang up in loading screen - sometimes up to five minutes, until the game boots them out to the lobby or pukes up a "disc is dirty" error. When this happens, the entire lobby gets stuck in the loading screen until the person causing the delay get booted out by the game. This was patched in the March 23rd update, which then introduced...
If your car's decals are not visible in a race, your Xbox will crash when you return to the lobby. How often it happens varies by player, from every other race (rendering the game effectively unplayable) to every dozen or so races.
In the American version of Tokyo Xtreme Racer 3, the game's money system is deflated tenfold—you earn 1/10 as much money as in the Japanese version, and everything costs 10% as much. Unfortunately, the money requirements to encounter two particular opponents were not adjusted; as a result, one of these opponents, Whirlwind Fanfare, requires more money than you are allowed to hold—you can hold up to 99,999,990 credits, she requires 100 million. Since you need to beat the first 599 opponents, including her, to challenge the Giant Space Flea from NowhereFinal Boss, it's impossible to beat the game without an Action Replay.
In Mario Kart DS, the game can be completely frozen simply by holding A and B together and turning on the steps of the Luigi's Mansion track.
Mario Kart Wii also had the game freeze should you use the Bullet Bill item in battle mode, though the item can only be used there through cheats. Since item was not programmed to be used in battle mode, the game crashes since it doesn't know what to do.
The PC version of Wipeout 2097/XL physically runs faster on faster PCs, quite unique for a game made in '96 long after the demise of the turbo button. Within a few years the game was impossible to play. A Game Breaking Patch was released which claims to fix this and add local multiplayer, but also seems to require the game to be installed in c:/Wobble for some reason and is pretty unlikely to work even then.
In Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, the first-day Wii U update will prevent the Boost Challenges from loading the extra boost pads or any of the checkpoints. As the goal of the Boost Challenges is to pass through a certain number of checkpoints, they become impossible to clear. The first Boost Challenge appears near the beginning of the single-player mode as a mandatory mission, so this glitch effectively stops Wii U players from accessing much of the game. However, it is possible to skip these challenges by failing three or four times on Easy difficulty.
The Japanese and the early American copies of Gran Turismo 2 has some bugs in it due to Executive Meddling leading to the game rushed to Christmas release date (in America; Japan received the game in the same month but earlier) but the most notorious one was that, if you filled the Maximum Speed Attack leaderboards (maximum is 8) and finished a ninth maximum speed trial, it would destroy some garage information. While it is possible to work around the situation by reloading the savegame, US players could contact SCEA for a replacement copy, while the PAL version fixed it from start.
It also has a bug where some cars that should not appear on certain races appear anyway. An example is in the Trial Mountain Endurance, where the maximum horsepower allowed is 295hp, but that doesn't prevent a Lotus GT 1 and a VECTOR M12 RACE CAR appearing on the race. There's others such as the Red Rock Valley race on the MR Challenge where the SAME Vector M12 Race Car appears on the race. Have fun trying to win because it's completely unwinnable if it happens.
The "Over Achiever!" achievement in Cars Race-o-Rama for the Xbox 360 won't unlock after meeting the criteria of earning all the other achievements due to a bug.
In Naruto: Rise of a Ninja downloading Shikamaru from Ubisoft on Xbox Live would cause your game to freeze if Naruto was hit by anything like a log or spikes. The Jiraiya/3rd Hokage download corrected this problem.
Soul Calibur III had one of these; GameFAQs has a writeup on it. Essentially, it's possible if you do something in a different game (but one whose save file preceded your Soul Calibur III save on the card), you may find your next Chronicles of the Sword run-through wiping out...well, if you're lucky, only your Chronicles progress. In some cases, the whole save file may get wiped. Some have reported that the card itself can die as a result. Unpleasant, to say the least.
In the tournament scene, the infamous G-Step glitch, which allows one to immediately block after sidestepping, turned Soul Calibur II from an excellent tournament game to nigh unplayable at high levels due to it being really hard to hit anyone. A less game breaking version exists in every successive game, but it's still responsible for the dominance of turtling strategies.
The initial version of Mortal Kombat 4, which wasn't technically supposed to get out to the public (it had missing Fatalities, no Kombo Limiter, missing characters, no endings...) had a bug where one character could lift his opponent to the top of the screen by using a special move properly. The "lift" wouldn't wear off until the target was hit by something else, and nothing could get up that high, so the game was effectively stuck, especially if the game timer was disabled.
Revision 3.0 had a bug where performing Reptile's Acid Spit fatality on Scorpion would crash the game.
The initial release of the PAL version of WWF No Mercy on the Nintendo 64 would, without any explanation or warning, delete all saved data on the cartridge. The North American version also had this error, stemming from a faulty battery responsible for the saved data.
This is true of any game which has a battery save system. The second the battery fails, the save is lost. Some games were able to recharge the battery with regular play, so that as long as a game was played regularly, the player shouldn't notice any lost data. Of course if you lost the data, you had to start the game over. Even worse however, is that if the battery does completely go, and cannot be recharged, the game can never be saved and turned off, meaning that the only way to get to the end would be in one sitting. Playing an old 100+ hour game that ran on an internal clock to do everything, such as Pokémon Gold? Better have a plug for your Game Boy, or sucks to be you.
This was quite a common problem with Pokémon Yellow due to cheap parts being used because of the demand.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has the ZeroGlitch. If you used his Doppelgänger Attack to snap back the enemy when the enemy has an assist, the enemy will not come back in to replace the one that got kicked out. Which means that you could stall for time over...but if the time limit was set to infinity, the game would really be broken after that.
Dante had the Quicksilver Glitch. His style cancels were programmed to execute no matter what - for example, if Dante gets hit on the same frame at the same moment he does a style cancel, he still executes it, even if he gets KO'd. When done with a Team Hyper Combo, Dante's style cancel pauses the Team Hyper, basically freezing time for as long as he can keep up his style cancels. This got fixed in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
The first Marvel Vs. Capcom has a couple involving Venom and the Duo Team Attack mechanic. If Venom uses one of his standard throws (the one that encases the opponent in a web) and Spider-Man quickly follows up with a Web Ball, the opponent remains locked into place until the Spider-Man/Venom player decides to hit them. The second glitch is much more intricate (involving Venom, Red Venom, and a specific sequence of moves), but the end result either freezes the game with a RAM Error or causes the machine to reset. See both glitches here.
A glitch that ends the round in a similar way exists in the early arcade version of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, when grabbed as Rachel, if you break the throw and casts her wind drive downwards at the same time, her opponent remains completely frozen and invincible until the time runs out if a time limit is set. If her opponent is Carl, the Carl player can still move his puppet while being stuck in this state, though.
The 1.04 patch for Street Fighter X Tekken added a nasty glitch where if Rolento's projectile knife collides with another projectile, the game will crash. Tournament holders have actually considered banning Rolento until the glitch is fixed.
Another early glitch in the PlayStation 3 version causes Mega Man, under certain conditions, to endlessly float upwards and out of reach.
Super Street Fighter II Turbo: Revival for the Game Boy Advance had a particularly horrible one in that, if the player reached Akuma, the game would lock up on a glitchy image of him. And even then if the player resetted, their Time Attack and Survival records were glitched beyond repair. Furthermore, Bison, Balrog and Vega's win quotes were given to the wrong boss in the English version (Balrog had Bison's, Vega had Balrog's and Bison had Vega's; meaning every boss got their Japanese namesake's win quotes).
A couple at launch. Some infinite combos (and really easy ones, at that) were discovered. Also, if Josuke's GHA hits just before time runs out, he heals the opponent but does not reduce his health again with his punch barrage.
Not quite a bug, per se (closer to poor coding), but the game's online multiplayer has bad netcode, and as a result matches are rife with lag.
In the console port of The King of Fighters XII, performing Raiden's DM on Elisabeth would cause her to become "stuck" to him, with no method of getting her loose.
While XII is widely considered to be an Obvious Beta of the game that would become XIII, the first version of the latter game still managed to release with a variety of crippling bugs: Hwa Jai can fly out of the arena, anyone who trades with Ralf's Neo Max using a jumping attack becomes stuck in the air, and Vice has two separate methods of locking up her opponent. These bugs, along with an infinite combo, were fixed in version 1.1.
The NES version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters normally prevents a Mirror Match of the character Hothead (although he's still coded with an alternate color palette), but if the player makes it happen anyway, the sprites will flicker like crazy. Emulators can prevent this due to allowing options for more sprites per scan line.
In Million Knights Vermillion. When Nobuko and Silvio collide with their supers at the same time, the opponent vanishes, allowing for a Time Over victory unless the timer is disabled. See the glitch here
The initial release of the EVE Online: Trinity update contained a glitch that prevented some Windows XP systems from booting until fixed by a rescue disk.
How this actually happened is definitely a “what not to do” in programming. The EVE program folder contained a file called boot.ini which contained various parameters...boot.ini is also a critically important Windows system file located in the root of C:\. During the patching process, the patcher was supposed to delete boot.ini (in the EVE folder) to allow a new one to be written, but a typo meant the patcher looked in the root of the drive. If you had EVE installed on the same drive as Windows, you got an unbootable system. Since that incident, the file in question is named start.ini.
A similar bug existed in pre-release versions of Myth II. Uninstalling the game wouldn't wipe just the game's files, it would wipe one level up in the file tree. This could result in the wiping your entire hard drive.note Trying to prevent something like this from ever happening again might be why most games these days install themselves at least two folders deep into the Program Files folder.
Each new release of EVE tends to include at least one bug that breaks gameplay as well. With the Crucible release, they broke the NPC police mechanics that protect players in the space controlled by some of the NPC factions.
In April 2009, City of Heroes had an incredibly nasty bug in its new Mission Architect feature: the Ninjitsu powerset that players can use to create custom enemy groups has a major damage buff given when the user attacks while stealthed. It's supposed to work only for that one attack and then the stealth wears off, as usual with the Stalker archetype. It didn't quite work as intended: custom enemies got that enormous damage buff for all their powers, whether or not they're stealthed. It meant even Tankers and Brutes could very, very easily be killed very quickly by any enemy, even standard minions, that had the powerset. Let's not forget that the buff was self-stacking, to boot — instead of just doing double damage once, they did max-buffed damage until you became a greasy splatter. With everything else with Ninjutsu (longer aggro range, Invisibility, decent defense, especially to Area-effect attacks..), they were pretty much The Way To Kill A Player. There was a screenshot floating around during this time showing an Energy Melee/Ninjitsu boss who had hit the playtester for over 9,000 points of damage. Even the toughest archetype in the game, the Tanker, caps at around 3000 HP. This bug has been fixed as of June 2009. but it's notable for being one of the hardest-hitting bugs in the game's several-year history.
Ace Online had an event in 2009 called Bloody Valentines. In this, nation-aligned Elusive Scout Guards would spawn in maps defined as the main territories of ANI and BCU, and they had a chance to cough upBroken Hearts. So far, so good. The mechanism they used for this spawning was that as mobs were killed in a specific map (for example, ANI's Relic map), sometimes a normal monster's death would cause an Elusive Scout to spawn (for this example, an ANI-aligned Scout would spawn). However, the GMs messed up in that they also made the monsters in Safe Maps (Relic Safe in this example cannot be invaded by BCU) capable of spawning Elusive Scouts which could not be attacked by pilots aligned to them. This eventually caused maps like Relic 1, Doleful Plains 1, and even the Desert of Ardor to be filledto the population limit with Elusive Scouts◊, preventing newbie pilots from safely grinding training in the Safe Maps. The GMs eventually limited their spawning to the new Episode 3 Maps and New Bark City to prevent the Safe Zones from being clogged up again. Most interestingly, ANI (of the Subagames Artemis server) made great use of the Elusive Scouts during the Horos Mothership Defensive of April the 19th. As the countdown to the Mothership's appearance loomed, several pilots went on a great Elusive Scout spawning spree, culling vast numbers of neutral monsters in their territories to create Elusive Scouts (which did not despawn for the Mothership Defensive!). During the great war that followed, the BCU army was beset not only by the usual formations and gatecamps of the ANI regulars and elites, they also had to contend with a swarm of Elusive Scouts jamming up their targeting reticules and pumping missiles at them - quite a significant number of BCU regulars blamed their deaths on Elusive Scout-launched missiles. What a cunning ploy by the Arlington Boys, to utilise the Event Mobs in such a fashion!
Kingdom of Loathing had the meat vortex bug, caused by an improperly coded check to ensure the meat (currency) wouldn't underflow. The meat vortex bug allowed players to gain 18.4 quintillion meat instantaneously, which wrecked the in-game economy. Fortunately, Jick proved that he doesn'tfail economics forever by cleverly fixing the problem via "meatsinks" - the Penguin Mafia (who would show up at a specific adventure site and randomly steal large portions of an adventurer's meat), the Council's attempts to stop the Penguin Mafia (which required a massive amount of donated meat), and, after a few more sequences along the same lines, the foundation of Uncle P's Antiques (overpriced, unsellable knick-knacks designed to get the last traces of "bugmeat" out of the economy). A later meat generation bug was discovered, but it was fixed quickly enough that the exploiters just had their accounts disabled.
Meridian 59: Word of God says that one of the early expansions had a new zone that required a special spell to access. However, the components to cast the new spell were exclusive to the new area, producing a kind of key-locked-in-chest scenario. The developers caught it and swiftly threw in a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere guarding enough of the components to cast the spell.
World of Warcraft experienced a nearly-game breaking bug in its early days. A boss in Zul'Gurub released a bad disease (called Corrupted Blood) that could spread, but only to players nearby. The disease was not meant to get out of the instance the boss was in, but a clever player could infect a pet, put the pet away, travel to a major city, release the pet, and begin the MMO equivalency of the Black Plague. Luckily, it only seriously affected one server before Blizzard fixed it.
The same technique of a diseased pet carrier could also be used for several other, much less severe jerk moves (like releasing high level mobs on low level players) but the cake goes to the Living Bomb debuff cast by Baron Geddon in Molten Core which causes the victim to violently explode, obliterating everything in range of the blast. Needless to say, a crafty warlock quickly got his pet affected and released it in a crowded auction house...
In what may qualify as a Crowning Moment Of Awesome (or at least a Crowning Moment Of Geeky) for the researcher involved, the Corrupted Blood Incident was the subject of an article in the real-world scientific journal Epidemiology, examining the spread of the disease through the virtual world, complete with analysis of the effects of NPC "carriers" and "terrorists" who deliberately spread it for malicious reasons. The CDC contacted Blizzard on the subject. So the spread of a fictional disease among digital characters in a game made it into a scientific journal as a possible model for the spread of real-world diseases.
Blizzard later recreated this intentionally as part of the lead-in for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, introducing a disease that could be carried by players and that would result in transformation into a zombie (who could then infect other players, as well as nearly any NPC in the game they could catch) if not cured by one of many healer NPCs added to the towns for the event. Although many players were annoyed at the disruption - on some servers, the game was nearly unplayable due to the mass infection of service NPCs - the event ran its course as planned. (Popular rumor claims that it ended early because of the complaints; the devs claim otherwise.)
Runescape experienced a fairly game-breaking bug in early 2009 where the game client would immediately crash anytime it tried to display µ (alt code 0181) in either public, private, or clan chat. By disabling all forms of chat, one was able to safely type µ into the public chat and crash anyone nearby (that had Public chat enabled) without crashing themselves. Mass Griefing ensued.
Even worse than that is the infamous Falador Massacre that happened (creepily) on 6/6/06. It all started when one player decided to have a party at his in-game house in celebration of getting level 99 in Construction. This, of course, included a combat ring. However, the lag in the house became so severe that he had to kick everyone. The players who had been in the combat ring somehow retained to ability to attack players, so, needless to say, they went on a killing spree, looting millions (in-game) in items. What made this even worse is that the victims were not affected by the glitch, so they were completely helpless, unable to fight back.
Global Agenda's new 1.3.2 patch contained a major bug in the auction house that allowed players to effectively create money from nothing. So far, Hi-Rez has responded by banning everyone who has come in contact with the exploit in any form, including people who recieved duplicated cash without knowing that it was effectively counterfeit. There have been accusations that the exploiters started giving away the money to unsuspecting players when it became apparent that Hi-Rez was tracking it, in order to get as many people banned as possible.
Antichamber: One specific puzzle near the end of the game, if solved in the manner that is most obvious, crashed the game. Specifically, the puzzle requires using the duplicating properties of block squares to form a block cube, which would crash the game due to its size. Thankfully, the puzzle is optional, is still technically doable even in the bugged version (simply make a cube that only fills as much area as necessary to trigger the door, or, if you're crazy enough, try to do precision shooting at the beam emitters), and the bug since has been fixed.
The game can only handle so many blocks existing at a time, making the block duplication ability of the red gun liable to crash the game if you try to use it on larger walls.
The game crashes if you use a block cube on the motion-sensitive destruction ball.
Real Time Strategy
An insidious bug in the Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War: Soulstorm expansion lets players queue an upgrade and cancel it to receive their investment back. Which would be a good thing... if the upgrade's price didn't increase in the meantime, thus resulting in infinite resources in multiplayer. Hilarity usually ensues. The first problem with this bug was that it took Relic over half a year to patch. The second problem was once they patched it, they replaced it with an even worse bug — the Sisters of Battle armour upgrade applied itself to all their units rather than just their infantry (and applied itself to their infantry twice). At least you had to choose to use the infinite resource bug.
There's another bug that you can use to screw over the AI in single player while playing Orks, in which saving and reloading causes the game to forget how many troops you actually have and start thinking your whole 100-Ork-resource army has only 24 Orks in it, allowing you to build another 76 troops.
There was also another bug that allowed spectators to activate a Dark Eldar player's Soul Powers. While this was more annoying than fatal, it was still a ridiculous oversight that led to severe annoyance on the part of DE players.
The Horde for the 3DO was infamous at the time for deleting all your save files of other games. A fixed version was released after great outcry.
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun had a rather useful bug (for single player) which turned really bad in multiplayer - for your enemies. If you play as the GDI and build so-called Firestorm Walls, you can activate these via ability and they become fully indestructible to anything, even superweapon strikes, block all weapons (except your own), and also force aircraft trying to fly over them to crash into the ground. Normally they deactivate and have to be recharged after some time of use, but when selling enough powerplants while they are activated so your radar shuts down, they stay active indefinitely. You can bunker down and wait until your enemy gets annoyed and quits. There is nothing (s)he can do but try to destroy the special generator structure powering the walls with a superweapon - which is impossible since the structure has more health than any of the superweapons does damage.
Similarly to the XCOM Terror From The Deep example below, UFO: Aftershock has a particularly nasty bug that prevents one of the research topics from appearing, making the game Unwinnable. It was never patched - instead, you had to e-mail your save to the company to fix it. The company went bankrupt. Now the only way of fixing this is finding the forum post that describes editing your save with a hex editor to trigger the appropriate flag.
Aftershock can also uninstall anything that runs in the background.
A bug in EA's copy protection for The Battle for Middle-Earth could result in the game suddenly not recognizing itself as a valid install and spontaneously self-destructing all your buildings and units a few minutes into any mission or skirmish.
In general, any time a song or the entire game itself has off-sync timing windows or incorrect tempo for the chart. Even if not playing for score, the timing windows being off can greatly hurt one's enjoyment of the game due to being forced to adapt to the incorrect timing instead of just playing the chart "by ear".
DJMAX Portable Black Square and Clazziquai Edition have background music with a bad habit of skipping and desynchronizing every now and then. In a Rhythm Game, this is a big problem, as it can make the song more difficult to play. Although some have fixed this problem by using the "Data Install" feature (which installs some of the game's data onto the memory stick to reduce load issues regarding the UMD). On the other hand, playing the game via an ISO on a memory stick circumvents skipping—an unintentional punishment for those who play DJMAX games the legitimate way.
The arcade version of Beatmania IIDX 9th Style has a bug in which starting up the song "Quasar" will sometimes cause the game to freeze, forcing a reboot. Additionally, after rebooting, selecting a certain song as the first song since the machine's reboot will trigger a hilarious bug in which you cannot get any note judgments other than POOR, making the song Unwinnable. To be fair, 9th Style was the first version of the game to run on a PC-based system with Windows XP Professional instead of their legacy "Twinkle" hardware. Later versions (which also soon switched operating systems to Windows XP Embedded) would have fewer of these glitches...except for one:
The song "GAMBOL" had a history of having completely broken timing windows. On 12th Style (Happy Sky), this was finally fixed...by putting a fixed chart on the Normal difficulty and keeping the broken version as an Ascended Glitch on Hyper. The joke got taken Up to Eleven on the console version of well...11th Style, by making an even more broken version on Another.
Guitar Hero 5 has the Expert/Plus bug that affects double-bass sections on songs with Expert+ . specifically, every other kick of a double-bass run in Expert+ would be a "null" kick in Expert. This is most noticeable on Done with Everything, Die for Nothing, the song with the fastest double-bass run on the disc. Neversoft also fails to see what the problem is, since they can clear the chart with 92% notes hit.
The home version of Dance Dance Revolution Extreme failed to add the "Dance Mode" controls to the options screen. Thus, the corner squares on a dance mat would also trigger arrow presses as if you were playing on a handheld controller, making it essentially impossible to play the game as intended (certainly impossible to play it well).
When Cytus was released on Android, it had serious timing issues on some devices, making charts feel nonsensical and unfun to play. Version 4.0.4 thankfully adds a calibration option.
Shoot Em Ups
The Prismriver sisters' glitch in Perfect Cherry Blossom. Occasionally at the end of the girls' final spellcard, Merlin (the white-haired trumpet player) will fail to transition properly into it and continue to attack the player — causing her to lose lives even after the battle has ended. Amusingly, fanon gleefully turned Merlin into a nutcase after discovering the bug, and in doing so made "Merupo" the most recognizable of the sisters.
Also the One-Billion-Bug from Undefined Fantastic Object, that would crash the game if you reach one billion points. Thankfully, ZUN released a patch for it.
Scene 12-6 in Double Spoiler has a tendency to glitch and kill the player for absolutely no reason whatsoever. This isn't Hitbox Dissonance, this is the player just randomly getting killed by thin air. This can even affect successful clear replays. And this one has not been patched. Seen here.
The Extra Stage in Ten Desires had a glitch where the game would crash at the end of the survival spell card unless the player used a bomb in the last few seconds. If they had the misfortune of having no bombs at the time, they would have to purposely die to obtain more, meaning they were screwed if they had no extra lives either. This was quickly patched.
Many of the Touhou Project games feature a control bug which causes the player's character to constantly move either left or right - pressing the directional key at fault has no effect on the problem. If you get stuck veering right, you can at least move left in opposition. If you get stuck moving left though, you're glued to the wall for the rest of the game. The only fix is to close and re-open the game client entirely, so if this happens to you, it's GG.
Sigma Star Saga has the Forgotten Planet bug. Normally, when you are pulled into a battle, you must shoot down a certain number of enemies to win and continue the main story, and the stage will loop until you do. But killing a "tombstone" enemy occasionally bypasses the "end battle" trigger, meaning the stage will endlessly loop but no new enemies will spawn, making it Unwinnable. The "endless loop" bug was also present in the Forgotten Planet's boss level. Word of advice: don't level up during it.
Star Fox 64 has a very rare heartbreaker; after beating Star Wolf on Hard Venom (the last level of the game), Fox decides to go it alone from here. The CPU will control Fox's ship to the tunnel that leads to Andross. Problem is, if you're at exactly the wrong distance or angle away from the tunnel, the ship will just keep calmly circling around the tunnel and never get any closer. Video here. Round and round we go!
The online game Galaxy Siege is prone to inconvenient errors that crash the game, such as glitching while assigning equipment.
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron has a special passcode that replaces the model of one of the selectable fighters with a flying car. While harmless at first, just don't pause while flying it, otherwise the game will zoom into the car and then subsequently freeze. What's even worse is that published cheat guides actually warn you of this bug.
Star Wars Episode 1: Battle for Naboo has a particularly nasty bug associated with one of the passcodes. Said passcode is only suppose to unlock all of the levels up to the second to last bonus one. However, if you're playing in a file with every mission unlocked normally with this code active, it'll actually let you scroll past the last one to discover leftover levels with placeholder text for mission briefings. Just don't go any further than the fourth one or your game collectively loses its shit on the level descriptions and crashes.
Star Wars: The Gungan Frontier, an otherwise extremely fun ecosystem game, had a glitch where creatures that were paralyzed by an in game item would occasionally grow in size. The creature itself would stay the same size, but its graphic would expand. If the player did not notice this (which was very easy) and let the creature continue this way, the graphic would eventually fill up a large portion of the map and continue to grow, causing the player to have to either exit the game, or trudge through oversized pixels to find the exact spot that the creature was standing, and use a capture tool to remove it from the map, removing the graphic. It even occasionally happened to creatures who weren't paralyzed, though in this case, it was easy to notice a creature who was suddenly frozen for no reason.
In a series known for glitches and bugs of various levels of usefulness and/or annoyance, the original PAL version of Harvest Moon: Back To Nature takes the cake: Once your character gets married, and your bride asked you what she should call you from now on, every choice resulted in the game simply blacking out. You could reload and replay from that point, but getting further was impossible.
A lesser, but similar glitch (since fixed) occurred in Harvest Moon DS, where errors in the way the game kept certain stats and missing unbuyable items made it impossible to unlock the Harvest Goddess or Witch Princess as eligible brides. The game may also randomly freeze and the save file randomly corrupt. The fixed version still suffers from the occasional, but rare, freezing.
In Harvest Moon: Tree Of Tranquility, the player cannot marry Calvin due to a glitch (fixed in newer copies of the game) that freezes the game for the five-heart event, which the player must complete before marrying him. The company recommends "not getting his heart level too high" if you want to go into the mine (as that's where his event takes place). If you are a male or already married, there is no longer a problem.
The Japanese version of Animal Parade had a rather nasty glitch where recieving a present from someone over the WiiConnect service could completely remove all festivals from the calendar, making it so you could never go to one of them again. The English version outright doesn't have the WiiConnect feature enabled, to stop the bug.
Animal Parade had another nasty one in the "Missing Children" glitch, where your children disappear completely except for certain events, with "None area name" showing up as their location if you track them. For several years it vexed players and was considered one of the most brutal glitches in the series, but players happened to stumble on a relatively simple solution: It happens to players who fiddle with the in-game music options, and turning the volume back up returns the children, making the whole glitch a sort of Defanged Horror.
The Sims 2 and its expansions tend to be buggy. Most of them aren't game-breakers, but then you get the things like object-corrupting RC cars, self-deleting portals whenever a player character juggles something, and repeatedly spawning NPCs. To EA's credit, they did fix that latter one quickly, but the modders got to it first. MATY & Simbology > EAxis. Also, there are multitudes of reasons not to abuse the game's cheat codes.
There also a black hole glitch in the Double Deluxe edition (at least). For some reason if you save after building a house, it and the land it was on will suddenly disappear. The lot is effectively gone, and there's really nothing you can do to recover the lot shy of resetting the map somehow.
The Sims 3 is full of bugs. The cumulative corrupting and memory-sucking effects of a number can force a player to play an entirely new neighbourhood. Compounded with all the minor (and major) bugs introduced by new expansion packs and patches, playing, even with fixes by modders, has become more of a hassle than its worth to some fans of the series. Lag and memory issues can reach a point where the entire town is stuck standing outside restaurants, peeing themselves and starving to death. A comprehensive list of bugs in The Sims 3 can be found here.
Routing issues are the biggest trouble-makers. Dealing with the routing of a few sims isn't too bad, but considering the game is calculating the routes of the entire town, it can and is a real drain on resources.
Toddlers, other sims interacting with toddlers, and tourists (introduced by World Adventures) have especially terrible routing, often going into another room or outside to start or continue an interaction when there was more than enough place in the first room.
Though the school buildings have multiple doors, sims will only head through the middle one. Cue children and those in the education career missing work, dropping their actions, and having their performance go down.
Certain parts of many of EA's worlds, particularly the ones introduced in World Adventures, have unroutable terrain. Any sims that get in whilst collecting rocks and bugs will be stuck, and the game will attempt to recalculate their routes individually. As many of these spots are outside lots, you'll have to either resort to using the resetsim cheat (which can corrupt sims and objects they're interacting with) or evict that sim from their current house and move them back in. The maps haven't been fixed officially, but a modder has created fixed ones.
Reposims will repossess anything, including objects that a sim is currently using. The sim will often be left inaccessible and must be reset.
The update by the Ambitions expansion pack and its patch have left most excavation sites in World Adventures inaccessible.
The love letters and presents introduced by the 1.42 patch and the wedding gifts introduced in the Generations expansion pack can make mailboxes unusable, if sent by a sim no longer in the town. Good luck paying your bills, and say hello to the reposim.
You can't really play if your entire user interface is gone. This is caused by save file corruption, which can be caused by countless things.
The UI is modified in non-English versions of the game to accommodate more text. Sometimes the localisation breaks the code and leads to certain interfaces simply not showing up.
Occasionally, sims' outfit information becomes corrupted, leading to invisible, unclickable, underground sims. This was exacerbated by the Late Night expansion pack and its patch. Compared to the other bugs in the game, this one is easy to fix—just edit their wardrobe. However, this requires the target sim's household to be active, resulting in the previous households' sims dropping wishes. Even disregarding that, switching household is a hassle that requires many clicks, unless you have a mod that lets you modify inactives' wardrobes. The wardrobes of sims who aren't residents of your town can only be fixed with mods.
Sometimes, when a sim visits a lot, they leave their vehicle on the road and are given a copy in their inventory. In a short amount of time the neighbourhood will be overrun by abandoned cars, sucking up resources and causing lag. This isn't preventable, and all the vehicles must be deleted one at a time through having testingcheats enabled (or, if you have the Ambitions pack, by detonating them for scrap metal) after the fact. Thankfully there's also a mod that periodically cleans up your town.
Adult sims taken to jail can go missing, but baby and toddler sims are the ones that are most susceptible to disappearing.
The most common cause of baby disappearance is kidnapping by a baby-sitter. The baby-sitters are oblivious to the fact that they're taking them, though.
The babies and toddlers of inactive households often disappear on their own. The most common way that this happens is right after birth with babies. However the baby still shows up as alive in the family tree.
If you have the World Adventures expansion pack, you can travel and leave your baby behind. There's no guarantee they'll be there when you come back.
The travelling system in World Adventures is bugged to the point people don't recommend buying the expansion pack, or at least to never vacation. Sims travelling to another country may not actually arrive, leaving the player with no active household to control and stuck in that neighbourhood unless they reload an earlier save. Visiting sims that return home are often corrupted and have new family ties and surnames from the vacation country.
When a sim moves into a new home, the game saves a copy of that sim in a sort of clipboard. Once the sim is moved in, the game often fails to clear that clipboard. Homeless sims (sims that don't live in the town but do various jobs around the town) are often created from that clipboard, making lookalikes. This isn't a game-breaker by itself, but when copies are made of sims returning from vacation, they have the original family ties and surnames of that (now foreign) returning sim. This effectively ruins household structures and relationships.
Simply travelling can actually corrupt your save, leading to issues like a missing user interface and invisible, underground sims.
Late Night and its patch broke the game's moodlets, or buffs and debuffs system. Sims are given an invisible, semi-permanent negative mood impact after completing a certain action (such as sleeping) or a certain number of certain actions (twenty social interactions). This applies to all sims, even NPCs, and eventually causes the entire town to be cranky, depressed, and refusing to do things like homework and cleaning. A modder has created a hot-fix which recalculates the proper mood impact of a sim's moodlets every time it gets a moodlet.
Most of the careers in the game involve a sim reporting to work and disappearing into non-customisable setpiece buildings, termed "rabbitholes". The Late Night and Ambitions expansion packs introduced task-based careers taking place outside rabbitholes, and they're all broken in one way or another.
Gig opportunities for bands aren't pushed, and are extremely rare. A sim who has spent their entire adult life in a band may only see two or three gigs.
As an architectural designer, one can occasionally get a job from a sim that doesn't exist. If you finish the job and call them over to finalise it, your sim is stuck with that one job forever, eternally waiting for a client who doesn't exist to show up. And you can't cancel it from there.
Being a firefighter involves more vehicle maintenance than actual firefighting. That's very good for the city's inhabitants, but not for the sim that has the lifetime wish to save 30 sims in the firefighting profession. It's the same problem with the band career—these opportunities aren't pushed and are extremely rare.
For whatever reason, the presence of vampires (introduced in the Late Night expansion pack) causes stuck sims who must be reset. Players are recommended to not have any, or at least closely control their population.
Taking a picture with any sim in the Photo Booth from the Showtime expansion pack instantly makes the two romantically involved. Yes, even parents and children.
Infinite baby loop. Pregnant sims are given the option to name their newborn baby. Over and over again. Creating more babies. Resetting the sim may or may not work. The only sure fix is loading a previous save. This bug has become more common with the Generations patch.
The Late Night expansion pack modified skill learning to make vampires learn faster, but a bug in it prevents some other sims from improving their skills at all.
The Generation expansion pack and patch reintroduced a missing and beloved feature from The Sims 2—memories! The new feature quickly became a bane to many players. Why? Because memories of insignificant things like visiting the grocery store were generated each and every time a sim, including tourists and homeless sims, visited, causing massive save file bloat and resource sucking. And there's no way to disable memory generation. Of course, shortly after mods were made for the sole purpose of disabling it.
It's not clear if this is plain bad design or bugs, but the game's in-built story progression, which maintains the town and lives of inactive sims, is terrible. Inactive households that the active household has a good relationship with and are invested in are sometimes forcibly deported, making them gone forever. Population control is haphazard, inflating population numbers by impregnating many sims within a short span of time, suddenly realising the town is overpopulated when all those babies are born, then scaling back by killing off many of those same babies and toddlers.
The Seasons expansion pack introduced festivals, and with them, pie and hotdog eating contests! The catch is that anyone participating dies of starvation.
Animal Crossing, of all games, has some in its handheld incarnation. Most notable is a glitch that would make the game freeze upon visiting an animal's birthday party, forcing a reset and an earful from Resetti. While this particular glitch may not show up for years, once it starts happening it's impossible to STOP it happening, meaning that you can never visit one of these parties again.
Also from the handheld version, one can obtain broken items that, if dropped, can never be picked back up, can create buildings, change the terrain, or prevent the game from loading past the title screen. Needless to say, certain people take great pride in deliberately sabotaging peoples' games through the Internet. Although only people on your friend list could enter your town via friend codes (the games don't allow towns to be visited by anyone not on your list), you had no way of telling if someone was nice or a griefer until it's either too late or you watched them like a hawk.
Black And White 2 was impossible to even start playing if you didn't have a mouse that had a scroll wheel, and was made by either Microsoft or Logitech. The initial release of the game wouldn't let you skip the tutorial, which at one point requires you to use your mouse's scroll wheel to zoom in or out to continue. That's right - they didn't test the game on any laptops or PCs with older/cheaper mice. Moreover, the box gives you no indication that you need a scroll-wheel mouse in the "System Requirements" section. They finally "fixed" it in the first patch by letting you skip the tutorial...but it penalized you for doing so, which caused people to wonder just whether the developers were in cahoots with Microsoft and/or Logitech to sell more of their mice.
If you play Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 (a game already filled with problems thanks to a poorly optimized game engine) on a multi-core PC, the frame rate can drop significantly during in-game nighttime. Depending on how much you've already built, it can become basically unplayable. This is especially aggravating with parks that open and/or close late.
In Trauma Center, if the first slice is sutured too quickly, Mature Kyriaki fails to spawn, making the operation unwinnable.
The original Creatures had "Sudden Import Death Syndrome", which is exactly what it sounds like: occasionally, for no apparent reason, a creature would simply die on import.
Creatures 2, perhaps due to its rushed release, was full of bugs both minor and game-crashing. "One Hour Stupidity Syndrome", caused by a problem with the orignal genome (the simulation itself was working exactly as it was supposed to,) was especially infamous for making afflicted Norns essentially unable to survive after a while as they'd refuse to eat or sleep.
Microsoft's Flight Simulator X will crash to desktop anytime the user right-clicks more than a few times if they are using Windows 7. This is made even worse by the fact that MS markets the game as "Games for Windows"-their line of software explicitly said to be compatible with Windows. The only fix is replacing a hidden file with an older version.
X3: Albion Prelude had an issue turn up after a patch that came to be known as the "Billion Barracuda Bug," wherein the game would spawn race military fighters meant to be attached to a rapid response fleet. Except they would simply float in space, and instead of having a couple dozen there would be hundreds or thousands, sucking down CPU cycles which are at a premium in the X series. The only way to get rid of them was to manually kill them or add a stopgap script a modder wrote, whereby players could delete them. The bug got fixed in version 2.5.3.
MechWarrior 2 was never exactly bug free, but some of the worst bugs made entire lines of weapons useless.
If a laser weapon's projectile was still in the air when it shot another one, the second wouldn't register hits. This made all pulse lasers worthless, as the very thing that on paper made them more powerful was that the light ones fired very fast, and the heavy ones fired two bolts in rapid succession.
As turns out, this wasn't a bug, but deliberate. The pulse laser in the board game has an accuracy bonus, but only a mild damage bonus. The game was therefore coded to only recognize one hit from any given 'burst' of laser fire from any particular laser. If a single beam in the laser burst struck a target, any consecutive hits from that burst would have their damage nullified. This was meant to emulate the accuracy bonus of the board game and offset A-Team Firing to a degree. The real problem is that they applied this to all weapons that were not some kind of missile, causing many of the other bugs below.
Heavy autocannons had - as with heavy pulse lasers - the defining trait of shooting two bullets in rapid succession, the second of which might as well not have existed, effectively halving their damage.
PPCs had a serious bug too - there could only be so many of their Painfully Slow Bolts in the air at any one time, so a Mech mounting several of them would often find itself firing nothing after the first shots - the sound would play and heat would increase, but the bolt simply would not appear. This made it useless to build PPC boats, which are otherwise some of the most damage-effective (albeit heat-intensive) configurations.
The game often forgot what to do with the Gauss rifle's collision detection for its projectile and would visibly send it sailing right through an enemy's center of mass and off into eternity without causing any damage, but wasting one of your severely limited Gauss slugs. This was especially bad at shorter ranges, where a lot of the fighting tended to naturally occur.
A really notorious (and famous) example occurs when Vietcong is run on newer computers, especially in the third mission, where the game always crashes after Hawkins says "I can smell those VC bastards". It also crashes whenever the radio icon shows up on the HUD. Fortunately, there's a third-party program that tweaks the game to prevent it from crashing.
There was a design oversight in MVP Baseball 2004 that made it abnormally rare for left-handed hitters to hit home runs. This could be compensated for by jacking up the slider setting that controlled power, but that would result in righty batters hitting an unrealistically high amount of homers. The PC version received a patch that mitigated this somewhat; console owners had to make do until MVP Baseball 2005 was released.
The Amiga football game Kick Off 96 suffered from an infamous bug whereby first half injury time would continue indefinitely, making each match unfinishable. The game received the lowest mark in Amiga Power's history, with Stuart Campbell awarding it 1% in the final issue.
NFL Head Coach 09 suffered from a bizarre bug: If you saved the game between Tuesday and Saturday evening (in-game, not in real life), then any Free Agents you tried to sign on that save game would demand ungodly amounts of money, totally out of proportion with their real worth. In other words, the glitch makes the game more realistic.
If you have a computer that has just enough capabilities to run Pro Evolution Soccer 2010, expect to go through some wild framerate swings. At some points, the game will slow down enough that, next thing you know, it will speed up just enough for you not to see where you're leading the ball and end up losing it. This may even happen when you manage to get through the defense - the game may freeze for a split second and, when you take notice, the goalkeeper has already fetched the ball from your player's feet.
NCAA Football 11 received a doozy of a glitch after a patch: if a quarterback pump-faked backwards (towards his own endzone), every single player on the defense would abandon their coverage assignments and charge him, leaving all wide receivers open deep.
NCAA Football 12 includes showstopping bugs in Online Dynasty mode whereby the game can sometimes override a user game's score with a simmed game, resulting in a loss where there once was a win. It can even create a game out of whole cloth, showing a loss for a user on a bye week. This in a sport where even a single loss can cost you a National Championship bid. Then there is the possibility that the game might refuse to advance the week at all, a bug which affects all twelve players in the league.
Several games in the FIFA series, from the introduction of friendlies in manager mode, until FIFA 12, had the Danish league bug, which simply was that the game skipped a season after playing one, if you managed a Danish league team
The original PC release of Madden NFL 07 had an absurd bug involving clock management. In between plays, you could zoom out to see more of the field. This was often done after long passes, to see if the players were back to the line of scrimmage. However, when the camera was zoomed out, the clock would stop. So if you were down late in a game, you could attempt long passes over and over again, and if you couldn't get out of bounds, all you had to do was zoom out the camera, and not need to use up a timeout or spike the ball.
Continuing with the theme of EA games having horrible bugs, we have Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08. The first season (as an amateur) works perfectly fine, but as soon as you qualify for the PGA Tour and try to enter an event, the game freezes entirely. Try and skip the first event in the season? Every other event freezes the console too. This was especially unfortunate for people using an Xbox or a PlayStation 2, due to the lack of patches.
Tony Hawks Pro Skater 4 for the PS1 is notorious for its lack of error testing, and graphically clips quite often. There are moments where you can grind a rail and suddenly it disappears and you fall THROUGH it and lose your combo. The worst part about this is that it's random, though can happen quite a lot in the opening "College" level.
Tony Hawks Underground 2 had a horrible tendency to freeze up completely at random while saving. There was no way of knowing if it would happen or not, and because it would freeze up while saving, all save data for that file would become corrupted. The only way to play that game to the end effectively would be to keep two saves, updating both, and hoping you could redo any challenge if the game froze up on your first save.
It seems that the game always freezes, without fail, when attempting to save a file while in the New Orleans level, on Sick difficulty.
The 1990s Apple Macintosh skiing game MacSki went through a spell where it was unplayable on G3 Macs such as the first-generation iMac — the skier wouldn't move an inch. This was due to said computers being so fast at the time that the frame rate algorithm was underflowing to zero.
Stealth Based Game
An enemy in a certain room in Beyond Good & Evil drops a key when it's defeated. However, depending on how you defeat the enemy, the key it holds can spawn in weird places—such as in corners, or in the ceiling, or even slightly beneath the floor. Since you need the key to progress through the dungeon, the game becomes Unwinnable—luckily, it's fairly easy to reload from an earlier save if this happens.
It's also possible in a few places to "lose" your partner permanently. Not only does this keep you from finishing the game in the usual way (You lose access to their abilities, which you need to finish the game), it also prevents you from using your hovercraft, since you'll wait around for them to return before you can set off. Resetting is once again the only option.
If, for whatever reason, you decide randomly to backtrack to the Comm Tower from the Snowfield in Metal Gear Solid and ride the elevator down, and then save your game, the elevator will never come back again.
The PlayStation 3 remake of Metal Gear Solid 2, when played at standard definition in PAL regions, had a glitch which caused a conveyor belt to appear empty when it should be transporting boxes. It wasn't an issue at lower difficulties, but in Hard mode or above the player is required to disarm a bomb attached to one of these boxes, making the game impossible to complete. A patch to fix this issue was released 3 months later.
In Dishonored, doing Slackjaw's sub-mission in the House of Pleasure level can cause the game to crash after exiting the Doctor's office.
In Silent Hill: Homecoming, during the fight with Scarlet, there is a quick-time event at the half-way point that must be completed into to face the boss's next form. Many have had problems with this event, as no matter how well-pressed the buttons are, some copies of the game just to refuse to register it, making the fight Unwinnable.
Another glitch is that on the Xbox 360 version in the hotel level, when you are on the highest reachable floor, there's one room with a hole to jump down into similar to one earlier that you climb out of. This room is crucial, as it contains the last post card needed to take back to the creepy woman. the glitch is that, the first time you walk up to the hole, it gives you the prompt to climb down. If the player doesn't take this command prompt and instead goes to continue exploring, when they come back to the hole the command prompt will not appear; there is nothing that can be done other than reloading your last save (Unless of course, you saved after you made the glitch without realizing it. then you have to restart the game). This is very troublesome, especially if you haven't saved in a long while.
In System Shock 2, near the end of the game, plot progression requires you to blow up some shuttles on SHODAN's orders. The only problem is, you need a resonator in order to take down the shuttles' shields. You can get it by hacking a nearby replicator - except if you happen to have already hacked it earlier (to get more goodies as usually happens); because you can't hack stuff twice, you're screwed. Thankfully, there is a cheat code that can summon the resonator and ameliorate things somewhat.
The first official patch will "unhack" that particular replicator when you are given the objective to hack it, thereby fixing this bug. Still a good idea to hack it ahead of time, though, since it's the ONLY opportunity in the game to buy EMP grenades on a non-broken replicator.
The game, as well as the original two Thief games that used the same engine, also cannot run properly on multi-core processors (which did not exist when the games were made but are now pretty ubiquitous). It will appear to start and work normally but will usually crash within the first few minutes of play. Without having the internet available to diagnose the problem and figure out how to run the game on a single core it would be unplayable on modern machines.
In Resident Evil Outbreak, occasionally a player using Alyssa's ad-libs during the very first scenario would cause the game to hang. Thankfully averted when an AI-controlled Alyssa use them...which is all the time.
Third Person Shooter
The Dreamcast version of Fur Fighters was rather buggy. One of the worst occurred in the level "The Bad Place." There's a bridge you have to cross, but once you pass a certain point, the character walks directly into the abyss for no apparent reason, sending you back to your last checkpoint. Apparently, if you cross at JUST the right angle, the character will stop walking before they reach the edge and you'll be unable to continue.
The PC port of Gears of War had a rather nasty bug that deleted your saved game. There is no way to back up these saved games, either. It was finally fixed with patch 1.2...which came out six months after release.
The Gamecube version of True Crime: Streets of LA had several hives' worth of bugs. The worst was one that would corrupt your memory card; essentially, it would wipe ALL your saves, and make it impossible to save anything ELSE on the same card.
Following the tradition of its predecessor, True Crime: New York City featured another book's worth of bugs, most of which the player could count on seeing at least once. The Xbox version of the game had one of the worst: in a required story mission, the player must grapple with a criminal atop a high-suspended cargo container and push them off the edge before the same is done to the player. The "push off edge" action was context-based and only available once the criminal had been pushed to the very edge of the container, but on the Xbox version of the game the action was active for the barest fraction of a second. The few players who managed to bypass this stage often spent up to 20 minutes hammering the same two buttons over and over just to perform this supposedly simple task.
The high level of bugs was not limited to the Xbox. Every version of the game was buggy enough that a unified "glitch guide" was uploaded to GameFAQs to track these problems.
In Star Wars Battlefront II, you can randomly fall through the ground. It's rare, and you can respawn, but you lose a soldier/reinforcement point on your side every time you respawn. Granted, it doesn't really break the game, but it's supremely annoying.
A particularly annoying one pops up on occasion when using Han Solo, if you have the points for or have permanently unlocked the precision pistol: you switch from his pistol to his repair gear, and cannot switch back. This leaves you with no damage-dealing capacity beyond five remote-detonate bombs until you die.
S4 League has a bug in its Chaser mode that renders the player without a HUD, making it very difficult to aim and leaving the player with no way to tell how much health they have left. Another form of this bug is even worse as it locks the camera in place, making the round virtually unplayable.
In Jedi Academy, there's one mission that has you going into a Jedi tomb to stop the Cultist bad guys stealing Force energy from it. To finish the level, you need to seal the tomb, preventing the Cultists from getting to it again. The entire level is composed of your typical railingless walkways over infinite drops, so the most efficient way to kill enemy Dark Jedi is to Force Grip them and quickly chuck them over the side before they Force Push back at you. However, if you employ this method on the last one (the guy guarding the tomb itself), instead of killing him directly, then the final objective - telling you that you need to seal the tomb - never triggers. It's not quite a game-breaker, since you only need to complete 80% of the levels to advance the plot, but it definitely breaks that level (right at the very end, literally two button presses from finishing).
The PC version of the 1999 Acclaim title Shadow Man is unwinnable on computers running Windows 7. For unknown reasons, various bugs pop up in the game when run under Windows 7, likely due to incompatibilities between game and OS and not even compatibility mode will fix these problems. The player will slide on any angled surface as if they were ice, lighting effects are broken to the point that the flashlight barely works and cutscenes don't always play properly. None of these make the game unwinnable. The game breaking bug takes place in the prison level as the zombie monsters can not be killed. They will fall to the floor when taken enough damage but the shadow gun will not finish them off and all other weapons fail to deliver the death blow, causing them to get back up. In some rooms, the zombies are so heavy that their gun shots will kill the player in seconds, rendering the game unbeatable as it will be impossible to get through these areas.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game for both the 360 and the PS3 had glitch(es) that made two of the multiplayer achievements/trophies impossible to get. It was finally patched, 18 months later! And the real kicker is the patch only worked if the player hadn't already met the requirements for the achievements/trophies. Which meant practically everyone was screwed. And did I mention it's not possible to delete games in which you already have achievements?
The PS3 version has a tendency to "forget" your saved games. They appear in your PS3 Save Data folder, but not in the game itself, forcing you to restart.
In Kid Icarus: Uprising Chapter 20, after jumping across the stone platforms and making your way to the room leading to the maze section, if you make Pit rapidly run in and out of the room and off the edge of the world, you can be killed in a matter of seconds. It shows the falling animation, followed by the respawn sound, but instead of ending up back on the platform, you'll do this a couple times before the Game Over music starts.
BIONICLE Heroes: There is a glitch where the only enemy units that will spawn are Gahloks. The other enemy units are not replaced by Gahloks, they just don't spawn at all. This makes advancing through stages very easy, but makes them unwinnable because you will be unable to activate Hero Mode to clear obstacles. Restarting your console will fix this.
The classic falling-through-the-floor glitch is also present, and can happen apparently at random.
Turn Based Strategy
In Master of Monsters: Disciples of Gaia, if your Master reaches level 99, they can't go any higher. Why? Because if they gain a level at that point, the game will crash.
X-Com: Terror from the Deep has the Research Tree bug, where researching something too early can accidentally block off advancement in that research path. Most crippling is the Live Deep One bug. If you research a Live Deep One before you research the prerequisites for the Ion Armor, you won't be able to research the ships needed to complete the game. Thankfully, most of these have been patched away by the Windows 95 version.
Another bug in Sacred Stones occurred due to the enemy control glitch. Using this glitch, one could take the Stone weapon from certain enemies and use it to teach their characters dark magic. Teaching this to Tethys, a non-combat unit, would allow her to attack, but every time she would double-attack an enemy the game would hang up. This, like the above, could only be fixed by disabling animations, though unlike the above the glitch didn't occur in the Link Arena.
Fire Emblem: Genealogy of Holy War has a nasty bug that can happen— if Ethilin and Cuan live through the plot event where they're supposed to die, they'll attempt to take a nearby castle as a base. Unfortunately, you need to take that castle, and you can't take a castle from your allies, causing the game to become Unwinnable.
The American version of Rekka no Ken was just...buggy. Among the ways it can be crashed:
In the first chapter in which Kishuna appears, if an enemy unit is standing in the spot where he's supposed to appear when he does so, it will sometimes have its sprite changed to look just like Eliwood's. Attempting to attack this fake Eliwood crashes the game.
If a unit equipped with the Devil Axe attacks and ends up doing damage to itself, but is not killed by their own attack, and is then counterattacked, the opposing attack will instead make the unit's HP skyrocket to infinity and the battle to never end.
Not quite game breaking, but close: the enemy control glitch can occasionally lead to odd graphical errors where the terrain starts sliding across the screen. Moving the cursor will at least briefly make part of the correct map visible before it starts sliding, though other parts will still appear as something other than what they are. Since the unit movement functions as normal, this can lead to non-Berserker land-based units appearing to move over the normally impassable "Peak" terrain, as the Peak actually came from a different part of the map.
In its initial release, Civilization V suffers from a bad memory leak in which it's possible to never finish a very long game with many players. The game runs in 32-bit mode, which on 64-bit systems, limit the game's actual memory usage up to 2GB. Once the game hits 2GB, it will crash.
It's possible for Galactic Civilizations 2 to glitch in such a way that when you start the game, your ships become sublimely convinced that every single location on the map, including your homeworld, is outside the area they can move to. Being completely unable to colonise new worlds means that a game about building empires prevents you from building an empire.
it also has problems booting up if not the last program installed.
Super Robot Wars 3: Stage 7 is a Beach Episode, with most of the cast taking some time off...so naturally, the bad guys choose this moment to attack. For the first four turns your only units are a small skeleton crew; on Turn 5, the rest of the heroes get back just as some more enemies arrive. However, if you manage to beat the initial enemies before Turn 5, the stage ends and everyone on the beach just gets left behind. Hope you like early UC Gundam and Getter Robo!
The Age of Empires game for the Nintendo DS is plagued with technical issues, including one that bricks the cartridge if the name of your save file is less than four characters long. The publisher eventually started printing an insert in the box warning people of this issue.
Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness had several issues on loading animations, some voices and even some sprites. The voices weren't that much of a problem - at most the game would load the wrong voice or nothing at all. However, if the game tried to load a skill animation or a faulty sprite, the game would freeze. Reported issues included Laharl's Blazing Knuckle, fire spells in general and DLC characters appearing on the Dark Congress. A patch was released by January 2014.
Wide Open Sandbox
Some people who bought the Steam version of Prototype 2 have found that it will not launch. At all. It's also an example of Idiot Programming, given that it can be solved in some cases by unplugging the mouse or keyboard, which should not even matter at all.
A very nasty one occurs in the PC port of Saints Row: The Third. If you are running a computer that is a bit too slow (but still within the specs), a certain cutscene will not play for a scripted event, causing you to ALWAYS DIE. Made worse by the fact that it's in a storyline-required mission (and early in the game; it's the one where you have to storm Loren's hideout), meaning you can't skip it.
A similar thing occurs in Saints Row IV during the early mission "The Real World", where there's a series of gates at the end that will close in on your ship at a speed determined by your framerate. Should this happen, it can be remedied by lowering your resolution.
In Dwarf Fortress, cats will adopt dwarves without those dwarves needing to do anything. If cats which have adopted dwarves are slaughtered, the dwarf will have a tantrum. Tantruming dwarves can do bad things — so you want to avoid that. However, once the population of cats reaches a critical level (which is quite fast, because cats are promiscuous and have large litters of kittens) it becomes impossible to curb and keeping track of so many moving creatures causes the game's framerate to spiral downward rapidly into unplayability. This is known as a "catsplosion".
Some Hidden Fun Stuff is literally unkillable, since they don't have organs to damage. Though given that this is Hidden Fun Stuff, it's probably intended as a feature.
Another bug caused rain to melt creatures caught in it, including dwarves.
In older versions, if you happen to be on an evil-aligned map containing a stream with carp in it, you are doomed. Carp are already godless killing machines due to a bug in the skill system that caused them to get stronger by swimming and an overpowered bite attack. And undead creatures, which randomly appear in evil areas, are amphibious. The resulting zombie carp can not only maul anyone who gets close to the river, but follow the survivors back and murder them in their beds.
In Grand Theft Auto III, there are two generic black street gangs in one area. Over the course of the game, you can fully eliminate one of them. Starting a new game from the options while playing a game with that gang eliminated will also remove them from the new game, making that branch of missions Unwinnable.
Saving the game at the ice cream factory in Vice City has been known to corrupt many a gamer's save file.
In fact, using cheat codes in some games in the series will cause some hidden packages to disappear, making it impossible to get 100% Completion. This is done intentionally, but it would have been nice to have some in-game warning first.
The Malibu crash (for lack of a better name), exclusive to the PC version (and possibly the PS2 version as well) of Grand Theft Auto Vice City, causes the game to immediately crash when nearing the vicinity of the Malibu. It's not known what causes it, but it causes the game to crash, saying "Error reading the Grand Theft Auto Vice City DVD."
The infamous Mad Dogg glitch in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. A glitch in a mission where you had to save him from his own suicide attempt by positioning a truck full of hay under him before he could jump off a building would become Unwinnable because he would jump off the building before the cutscene ended. This glitch also made the game Unwinnable, and this is compounded by the fact that no one is certain what triggers this glitch; it seems to be completely random. Many suggestions have been made, the most commonly accepted "cause" being that it's caused by cheating extremely often, or using common cheats. This is discredited, since many people who never cheated once the entire game still had the glitch occur, while some that cheated extensively never saw it. One cause is the "pedestrians riot" cheat (which cannot be turned off), causing everyone to become hostile to each other. This mission is affected because Madd Dog's character attempts to run to the nearest NPC to fight them, and in doing so, runs off the roof and dies. This is made even worse by it being one of the last missions in the game, meaning that if you get this glitch, you're screwed and have to start all over and pray you don't get the glitch again. Though, mercifully, it seems as though it never happens in two new games in a row.
Also, if you attempt to play basketball in Madd Dogg's mansion, all basketballs on the world map will be deleted from the game, meaning you can't play it again in that particular save. This one is minor, since basketball is not needed for 100% Completion, but another glitch involving the mansion that you should worry about involves saving there, which corrupts your file.
If you can manage to push a locomotive into your airplane hangar, the game will freeze after the doors close (which resets all the vehicles in the hangar) because the program won't know what to do with it.
Another glitch occurs when you have to steal a van with stereo equipment but you need to impress the girl behind it with your dance moves before she lets you get inside. Playing on an HDTV causes input lag, which means your button presses during the dance sequence are either out of sync or never registers at all, causing the mission and the game to become Unwinnable. To be fair, the game was released at a time when HDTV technology was new and developers weren't fully working on HD tech yet.
A rare but annoyingly persistent bug could be triggered when entering a building, which would teleport the player in the weird half-world the game uses to render interiors and special areas. With nowhere to go it would be impossible to continue the current mission, and therefore to complete the mission tree.
On lower-end systems that are well within the demands on the back of the box, the PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV occasionally fails to load surfaces and objects. At speed, you can slam into concrete barriers that simply didn't appear until you hit them. It's also possible to go down a ramp into nothing because the walls, floor, and ceiling failed to load. Also, doing anything to the music (such as changing radio station, skipping a track on the user track player, the user track player simply loading another track) can cause a short section of music to repeat endlessly, with the game crashing shortly afterwards. You have a good minute of knowing that no matter what you do, your progress since the last save is gone.
Also in GTAIV it was entirely possible to end up under the game map, especially in the western harbor part of Algonquin island. People would not see you, but you could see them. And shoot them. It required a jump in the water and swimming/hugging a part of the docks at the right angle, if you get lucky and the waves hit a low spot, you are phased through the walls.
The PC port of GTAIV suffered badly from consolitis, to the point that at least one of the end missions became impossible. After jumping a motocross bike off a ramp and catching on to a helicopter in flight, you're supposed to hit alternating keys in order to climb into it. On the PC, this became impossible to do if you had to high FPS, as the game simply couldn't register the keystrokes properly. This was later fixed in a patch, but for a while players were forced to run a FPS limiter in the background in order to continue.
Bully: Scholarship Edition for the Xbox 360 added a music class that plays like a two-button rhythm game. Most of the time it's okay, but there's a bug that prevents double notes from registering roughly 50% of the time. This is particularly controller-snapping on the double note-heavy Music 3 level, essentially turning it into a Luck-Based Mission. Ironically, the less double note-heavy Music 4 and 5 are easier because of this.
Another glitch in the game, while not game breaking per se, it completely ANNOYING. After finding all 75 rubberbands for the rubberband ball, the game is prone to breaking and [even though you still have it in your inventory] the rubberband ball is inaccessable.
Yahtzee's Zero Punctuation review of Mercenaries 2 described a particularly crippling AI bug as follows: After failing a mission where he was supposed to rescue a hostage from the top of a tall building via helicopter, Yahtzee discovered upon retrying that the hostage now recognized him as soon as he came within earshot of the building and, in an effort to come and greet him, walked right off the edge of the roof and came plummeting down to his death several stories below.
More fun from Mercenaries 2: After March 17, 2010, the game no longer plays if you have an internet connection, because EA has shut down all of its servers for Mercenaries 2. Instead of simply giving an error message, the game gets stuck "Connecting to EA server" forever and freezes up completely. Thanks, EA. However (at least on the Xbox 360) if your account is over 13, you should be able to log in. (Warning: Not tested on PS2, PS3, or PC)
Spore has a really bad one in the space stage: if you invite allies to add ships to your fleet, they very commonly fly right behind your ship and get in the way of the cursor. If you fire a colony-spawning pack, and you accidentally click an allied ship, the pack fires horizontally into space, and you become trapped in the atmosphere of the planet, unable to save the game. This is very unfortunate, since the space phase is very engrossing, and the game has no auto-saving feature.
The most recent patch (1.05) added a couple more major ones. First, it screwed up the orientation of buildings placed over water/lava in adventures, rendering many unplayable. EAxis released a patch for the patch to solve that (1.05.1). However, the patched patch can still cause creatures to become almost completely un-animated, "sliding" around and maybe bobbing their head or wings a little, and this is only solvable by a reinstall. And this patch was supposed to improve creature animations...
If you attempt to skip either of the two migration cutscenes in said stage, your creature will be stuck in its egg and won't hatch. You're forced to go back to your last save and lose your progress.
Another one you might run into whilst playing an Adventure with the Galactic Adventures expansion is running into a building or static ornament too fast and getting stuck inside. Sometimes you can get out by trying to charge into a target, or using the sprint ability, but not everybody is going to have one of the two/you can't get out no matter how hard you try. Of course this means you'll hafta start the entire mission all over again.
Spore creates files in your documents folder for the things you create that you can copy and give to your friends. The common dangers of force-shutting-down your computer while a game is running become worse because of this. When reinstalling Spore, you HAVE to tell it to get rid of your old creations, because they are now corrupt and their presence prevents Spore from running. Imagine you had made hundreds of creations on that thing...
A few gamers complained that Planet Editor on Galactic Adventures crashed their computer. Completely. Every time they tried to use it.
It is possible for your starting nest in the creature stage (Where you first spawn), to appear wrongly, namely underwater. This in itself is not game-breaking, but the problem is that if you try to go on land, the sea monster comes and kills you, making the only way to progress be to search the coast in the hope that some creature is swimming.
The US release of Way of the Samurai 3 has an irritating bug with respect to the Records screen. Said screen is the only way to check what you have and have not done successfully. It's also where you see what you did to get the title you just got. One of the stats is Favourite Weapon. If it's a custom-made (forged) weapon, the game goes into an infinite loop, requiring the power button on the console to be pressed to turn it off. Fortunately, it doesn't cripple save data, and it can be fixed simply by starting a run, grabbing a randomly dropped sword, going to your house, pulling it out, leaving the console on overnight (unpaused), and then leaving Amana.
Alternatively, if you've used that forged sword for over 24 hours of game time, you may be better off starting a new game on the save file, discarding the sword, abusing the forging system to make a roughly-equal sword out of a random sword, and then leave Amana, as this will guarantee that the stat will default to another weapon.
In Minecraft, several of these can do anything from deleting your best items on death instead of dropping you, forcing you to start getting resources again from scratch, to getting you stuck on the (unescapable) bedrock roof of the Nether or dropping you out the bottom of the world.
Luckily, if you are stuck, you can set the game on Hard difficulty and let the hunger meter drain to empty and let the hunger kill you off.
It also has a bug where it will occasionally zero the level file (and the backup!) if the computer crashes, wiping your entire inventory and causing the game to not recognize the save unless you copy a level file over from another save (which causes other weirdnesses such as snow in the desert, due to the biomes being dependent on the world seed, which is stored in said level file)
Deadly Premonition has a particularly nasty glitch- if you replay a previous chapter and complete it before you finish the game(which is common for players trying to complete Emily's sidequests) there's a chance that certain critical items in your inventory will disappear and cannot be retrieved again. Like when you have talk to Olivia in the back of the diner in chapter 9, she gives you a key to get in, and if you decide to replay a previous chapter BEFORE you go to talk to her and the key she gaves you dissapears, then you have no choice but to start the game over. Fortunately this is relatively early in the game and you can get back to this point quickly enough(if it happens in Chapter 23 on the other hand) if you speed through the chapters and save the side activities until after you complete said chapter, but it still sucks to have to collect those trading cards and do those sidequests all over again. Thankfully the directors cut fixes this glitch.
Playing with the mouse instead of the keyboard prevents the game from satisfying the condidions to unlock Lenore as a playable character.
High scores will refuse to save on some computers, and since the point of most puzzle games is to rack up a high score...
The Elite series of space trading games featured several bugs, due to the sheer size and scope of the series. The first wasn't that bad, but Frontier: Elite 2 had some nasty ones - your spaceship's autopilot would occasionally fly you through planets, sometimes without sustaining damage - and the third game, Frontier: First Encounters, was released in a semi-completed state. For example, the biggest, toughest, and most ultimate spaceship you could buy was basically useless, since firing any of the 'turrets' resulted in you hitting yourself; early releases of First Encounters would crash when you fired a laser, or tried to use a joystick connected to a SoundBlaster gameport, or played certain missions.
Frontier: Elite 2 on Amiga had a bug in which when you targeted an entry hyperspace cloud and used a hyperjump analyzer the game would crash. Reset.
The ZX Spectrum version of the original Elite had a notorious one, caused by its copy-protection system, which consisted of a plastic lens. Anyway, the lens was used to view a distorted captcha on the screen to gain access to the game. Trouble was, the lenses from the original shipment were badly engineered, making it impossible to play the game at all.
Tricking the player is half the fun in Eternal Darkness. Most of the game-breaking type are pretty obvious, but still entertaining: The Gamecube turning itself off, the game mistaking your request to save as a request to delete, and even the infamous blue screen of death!
Of all things, the Chess software that shipped with Apple's OS 10.4 had one of these. Set the computer to its hardest setting and make sure you're white. The correct way to break the AI was 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 * twitch** freeze* as the computer forgets how to continue a Sicilian defense.
There was a similar bug in an early version of Mac OS (c. 1995 or so) that also came packaged with a generic Chess game. If you tried to lure the computer into a Fool's Mate the computer would not only ignore the checkmate, but would move twice before letting the game continue as normal.
It could be an urban legend but it is said that one of the early chess supercomputers was programmed to make the best move. Unfortunately this meant that where it could deliver mate in more than one way it would go into a loop to decide which was 'best' and lose on time.
Action 52 has games which have tons and tons of these bugs. Actually, it's more like a big bug with bits of games in it.
The most infamous one occurs in the NES version of Ooze. Active Enterprises held a contest saying that the first person who could get past level 5 wins $104,000. Sadly, the game freezes near the end of level 3 making it impossible to win.
Alfredo and Jigsaw completely fail to load most of the time, even on emulators.
In the Wii version of Rayman Raving Rabbids, one minigame requires you to find a hidden Rabbid using the sound coming out of your Wiimote's speaker. However, there's a bug that happens 9 times out of 10 where all you'll hear coming out of the Wiimote's speaker is static.
The "Greatest Rayman Ever" achievement in the Xbox 360 version is impossible to earn because getting a perfect score on all the minigames is worth 173,000 points, while the achievement requires 174,000.
Homeworld, at least in some reissues, features a killer bug. Sometimes your capital ship bay will just stop working while still accepting orders for new ships. The resources will be subtracted from your total but the ship just won't be delivered. Salvaging becomes impossible as well. This bug carries over into later missions and basically means starting again.
In Backyard Football 2006, if you throw the ball backward, the camera just zooms out...and zooms out...and zooms out without calling an incomplete pass. Then you have to start the season game all over again.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Reverse of Arcadia has numerous bits of Copy Protection as it is, so this may in fact be one of the various parts of the Copy Protection activating, but occasionally (albeit exceedingly rarely), when a player takes damage that does not reduce their LP to 0 after being attacked directly 5 times in one turn, the attacking player will say their "duel victory" quote...and the defending player will spontaneously lose the duel, even if there is a chance for that player to win in the next turn.
The N64 game BattleTanx has an infinite health cheat, but the game doesn't always let you turn it off. If you use the cheat during a bonus level, where the objective is to survive for as long as possible, you enter a situation where the bonus level will never end because you can't turn the cheat off.
Cooking Mama has this if you use cheat systems. Normally, infinite time is great because it allows you to get very good every time unless you cock up in some other way. But if you are in a task where time is essential to winning (like seperating egg yolks) thus rendering you to get bronze, which ruins your chances of 100% Completion.
Wonderland Adventures used to have a bug where you could use blink to teleport through a single wall tile. This "wallblinking" became famous after spots were found where you could blink in and then waste your blinks, leaving you stranded and making the game unwinnable. Perhaps nastier was The Void where you could skip the power cube levels by blinking past the gates at the cost of forfeiting 100% Completion. Except there's no indication you can't go back to the void once you finish the final level. This bug was fixed in a later version, but since many people liked the shortcuts it provided, the more adventurous people can still try it out by enabling it with a cheat code.
Portal, of all games, has a rather weird one where, if you kill the boss (by tossing the final personality core into the Incinerator) just as your time runs out, you die from the neurotoxin as the boss sort of implodes. You're ejected from the center and treated to the brief surface cutscene as per normal, but the game hangs there. You don't get to see the ending, and you don't earn the Heartbreaker achievement. Quite a bummer if you think you've just barely managed to pull off a victory.
Portal 2 has another one: press 'R' in single-player mode, and the "rate" menu will come up. However, since it makes no sense in single-player mode, the menu won't go away and the player will need to quit the program and start again. While still unfixed, there's a simple workaround: remap the 'R' key to something else (zoom/unzoom is a good option).
Another one in Portal 2 - when fighting the final boss, you're trapped in a room slowly filling with neurotoxin, no portal surfaces, and bombs being flung at you. You're supposed to use the bombs to create a bunch of portal surfaces by breaking a pipe... but in rare occasions, a glitch happens and bombs will NOT be thrown at you. This leaves you no other options, except to wait to die by neurotoxin, or reload (which is your only hope to avoid the glitch). It's incredibly ironic that the final boss could have easily killed you, if only he wasn't trying to kill you too hard.
The Oregon Trail 4th and 5th Edition have a lot of these, especially crashing bugs, as well as compatibility issues with Windows 2000 and XP.
In the old PC Point-And-Click adventure game Pink Panther: Hokus Pokus Pink skipping through the cutscene where the "Star's Bite" collection is unveiled makes the camera un aquireable, thus making the Greek Mythology chapter unwinnable.
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life was released commercially, despite its developer going out of business. As such, the first two 'episodes' of the game (themed around life and the afterlife) are more or less flawless...the final section, which takes place entirely in Terry Gilliam's cottage, is quite troublesome. Primarily, the final task of the game is broken. After collecting a number of cheese wedges, the player is meant to build a ladder with the cheese in order to reach the trap door to the Attic and complete the game. Opening the trap door doesn't trigger the end sequence as it should, but rather, presents the player with a black screen. (A workaround does exist, involving usage of the 'Windows' keyboard key.)
In the defunct browser game Little Cave Hero, you'll often find arrow launchers in levels. If your computer runs the game with lag, it'll have the bizarre effect of increasing the arrows' speed. At "best" the arrows will wreck your score. At worst, levels will become Unwinnable (e.g., in the level Signs, you won't be able to break one fake wall because a arrow keeps stunning you before the breaking animation ends).
Hasbro's computer verion of Cluedo has a nasty one. If a character is boxed in by other players (terribly easy to do with the Billiard Room, as one player can block the way to the Library, and another can block the door leading out to the Ballroom and Conservatory), the AI will roll and get caught in a loop trying to move the token.
If you're playing a version of Crimson Room that directs you to a page for the "Yellow Chamber", which gives you an important code necessary to complete the game, you're shit out of luck. The Yellow Chamber page no longer functions so the only way to progress is through sheer brute force. Don't even think about using codes from previous games or YouTube playthroughs, the code changes depending on your IP address. Hope you have time to brute force 10,000 different codes!
In-universe example: Nanny Noah's Treasure Hunt game in The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure can only be completed if you visit the museum's butterfly collection, but that building is closed on the day when it's supposedly being played by the local children. Fortunately, this doesn't stop Nigel from field-testing the hunt on the previous day, so it's only a game-breaking bug for NPCs within Saxton's Verse.
League of Legends had the Anivia stun bug. Normally she has the ability to shoot a ball of ice that damages and stuns enemies within range when it bursts. After one patch the range on this detonation became global, allowing her to spam that spell from anywhere (such as in the summoner fountain that restores mana at high speed) and hit the entire enemy team with it every few seconds. Obviously this made a match against Anivia essentially unplayable, and it was fixed very fast.
There was also a bug with Yorick's ult. Yorick's ult would summon a spectre of an allied hero that Yorick would control. However, if they died while the spectre was up, they would control the spectre for a little while. At launch? The person "resurrected" with Yorick's ult would die repeatedly, giving the enemy team a potentially endless stream of kills as long as they kept attacking them.
In the 3DO port of Brain Dead 13, when you chose the shave in Vivi's Funeral Salon, just when she was about to cut off your head with her Sinister Scythe... all of a sudden the game would turn black and you would just get sent back to the Main Menu screen for no reason other than a glitch. (Nervous Nick of ScrewAttack even lampshades this in his review of the 3DO port.) Version 1.1 of the port thankfully fixed the glitch in the Vivi's Funeral Salon sequence.
Angry Birds: it's possible for birds to glitch and stay there fore, which makes the level impossible to finish. There's also a glitch that can occur when updating on Windows XP which not only crashes the game, but corrupts it to the point where you have to find and delete a specific file to make it work again.
Invoked in Yume Nikki during the 8-bit "glitch" event. In the deepest room in the 8-bit dungeon, there is a 1/3 chance every time you enter the dream world that a tile in the corner will result in a blank speech bubble every time you "talk" to it. Continue interacting with the tile and the graphics will gradually turn into a garbled mess. Keep going, and the game "crashes", a continuous buzzing noise will play, and then Madotsuki will wake up.
The "Clock Watching" achievement in Worms Ultimate Mayhem is impossible to get in the Xbox Live Arcade version because a bug causes the sniper rifle to reload after every shot, making it impossible to hit all the targets in under three minutes.
Non-Video Game Examples:
Anime and Manga
In-universe example presented in The World God Only Knows anime. During episode 4, the main character, Keima, is obsessed with trying to beat a Dating Sim game which is filled with bugs and glitches which causes a certain scene to replay over and over. Despite the game being very buggy and glitched, he vows to find a way to get out of that repeating scene bug via trying different options/selections. The game company released a lot of patches, but didn't fix anything, and eventually went bankrupt, so Keima feels that he's the only person left who can "save" her. He sort of manages to get past the repeating screen glitch, but then hilariously a bunch of random characters appear on the screen and the game freezes up. Despite that, he still vows to try to find a way to beat the game.
In Gintama, Gintoki and Kagura end up competing against Hijikata and Okita in a multiplayer virtual reality RPG to see who can clear a section of the game first. However, the game is a terribly glitchy beta version, and Gintoki starts off poisoned so he can't even walk to a shop to get an antidote without dying, and Hijikata starts with so little HP that he ends up killing himself by stubbing his toe on a sign accidentally. Predictably, their partners end up ditching them, and the two are forced to find loopholes in the RPG's mechanics to progress without them.
In Sword Art Online this goes from game breaking bug to game breaking Feature. No logging out till the game is cleared, Respawning is disabled, and if you die in game your VR machine will LITERALLY microwave your brain.
In Wreck-It Ralph, when Turbo left his own game and entered another, it caused a fatal glitch that crashed the game, leading to both games being removed from the arcade.
Later on, King Candy doesn't want Vanellope to race because of this. He's afraid her glitching will make players think the game is broken, resulting in their plug being pulled. Or sohe says.
Retro Game Master: A barrier near the end of Bonks Adventure fails to raise itself, and since there's no time limit or any way to kill himself at that point, Arino is forced to play the game from the beginning again.
On the Pyramid game show franchise (e.g. The $25,000 Pyramid), if both teams were tied, each team would play a extra round apiece with the subject of "Words that begin with the letter '?'". Several times, the teams would get the same amount of points in each round, and still be tied after the tie-breaker. This has led to episodes where teams would be playing four or six rounds more than the usual six to decide who would play in the Winner's Circle. Sometimes, however, the producers would fix this by having BOTH of the day's celebrities play for both the day's contestants at the end of the week (as opposed to one celebrity and one contestant). This was later fixed in the 1980s versions by changing the rules so that if the first team got all seven tiebreaker words, their second team had to do the same in a shorter time in order to win.
There were a few instances where this happened in Legends of the Hidden Temple, specifically when they reached the temple itself and the game was rendered Unwinnable by Mistake. A few teams lost time because they couldn't open the door despite completing the obstacle. (Sometimes it didn't register a button press) However, one of the absolute worst cases was in "The War Fan of the Forty-seven Ronin", wherein a temple door closed and re-locked behind one contestant, who subsequently got ejected from the temple. Their partner came into the temple next, and was stopped by a door that their partner just passed through.
Raiden IV on Xbox 360 comes with the soundtrack. All of the in-game tracks each loop twice, which is standard for video game music, and then the track fades out and ends...except for "Tragedy Flame", the stage 4 track that is a rearrangement of Raiden II's stage 2 and 8 track. "Tragedy Flame" only lasts a little over one loop and, to add insult to injury, the track ends abruptly instead of with a fade-out.
In Star Wars (Data East), shooting the ramp several times lights the Extra Ball shot. The default value was only five shots, but it would adjust over time based on how well players did, and eventually increased itself to an unobtainable amount. This was not fixed until a software update in December 2012.
The Truenamer class from the splat book Tome of Magic is infamous for being broken in the sense that the class is unplayable as written. One noted ability of the Truenamer is that its abilities get weaker and harder to use as it levels up (You need to meet a check that goes up by 2 each level, while you can only put 1 more point in a skill a level), assuming you can even meet the DC required for an utterance at a low level (unlikely as due to another bad piece of writing the base is 15 vs the lowest level foe you can fight, while the normal first level is + 4 from skill ranks and a + 3 from ability score plus the result of 1d20, yes, your main ability is effectively luck based (need an 8 or higher, can't take ten) as to if it actually works against the least threatening foes.) and truenaming checks get harder to make as you attempt to do it more than once a day.
As with much of the late 3.5 game, this was possibly a prototype for fourth edition. In 4E, all of your attack rolls increase by 1/2 per level while all of the defenses for any NPC go up by 1 per level (directly compared to your Truenamer skill going up by 1 per level and the DC going up by 2 per level); 4E "solves" this problem by mandating you gain magical items and increase your ability scores to make up for the difference. It was probably expected that any Truenamer would pick up a magical item that grants + 15 to skill checks.
The Tome of Magic also neglects to include the target number for an entire class of Truenamer Utterances. The DCs were later set by errata.
Also in 3.5, it's possible to get a sorcerer with Wish as a spell-like ability with no GP or XP cost at level 17. This technically allows you to get free rings of three wishes.
The Drunken MasterPrestige Class relies on getting drunk. The problem is the intended entry is Monk, which becomes immune to poison (And alchool is classed as a poison in the rules) at level 11, and Drunken Master does not include wordings that overwrite this. Therefore, it's possible to make it impossible to use your class features.
An Epic Destiny in 4th edition, the Archlich, was also broken: one of his class features (that whisks him away to his phylactery when he hits zero hp instead of going unconsious) made one of his other class features (stay alive and power up when killed...which happens after you get below zero hp) impossible to use. It was errataed later.
In 3E and 3.5, a rules clarification resulted in this for most prestige classes that transform you into something else. To put it simply, baring specifically mentioned exceptions in the prestige class' write-up, you had to keep fulfilling the requirements for the prestige class to keep the benefits of its special abilities. This would be fine, except there are prestige classes like Dragon Disciple, which requires that you aren't a half-dragon and culminates in making you a half-dragon. Since it didn't say anywhere in the class that this didn't count against the requirements, you would lose all special class benefits from the prestige class the moment you hit level 10 in it, including the one that made you a half-dragon and therefore ineligible for the class (so you would gain the benefits back, which meant you now didn't fulfil the requirements again...).
Yes-it-exists-and-the-world-is-stupider-for-it RPG Racial Holy War is not just unplayable for the reasons you'd expect something with that title to be; the combat rules don't work at all (modifiers are listed, but not the basic chance they modify, making it impossible to actually attack anything), and the outnumbering system (if a party is outnumbered by a given amount, they flee) doesn't take any account of what is outnumbering them, meaning the supposedly heroic white warriors might conceivably run screaming from a mob of babies and pensioners. There's some debate as to whether the game is a parody or just that dumb.
Amusingly enough, one of the The Lord of the RingsRPGs had a similar issue; in army combat, there were modifiers based on the troop numbers, but they were based on the absolute difference, not the relative difference. So a thousand-man advantage might give an unbeatable bonus...meaning that 20,000 undead knights couldn't beat 21,000 hobbits with sticks.
As written in the core book, there's no way to use skils in Rifts, because there's no way to resolve skill checks.
In the board game Hero Quest, it is entirely possible to lock the game into an unwinnable state by making either the Elf or the Wizard use the spell "Pass Through Rock" then passing through one of the many boulders that are used specifically to stop you from going to rooms to have no way in and nothing of interest thus trapping you on one side of the board with no way out.
"Empty" rooms in the board are considered to be solid rock. That being said, there are a couple of passages that close behind you in the game and which can be screwed by use of this spell.
In 4th edition of Warhammer 40,000, the Tau had an APC called the Devilfish. As they were flying tanks the rules allowed everyone to see (and therefore shoot) through them, but you couldn't move under them or assault through them because they were low to the ground. Tau players would move two Devilfish into a V-shaped wedge, and then disembark troops inside, creating an assault-proof bunker for troops with powerful guns and horrible skill in close combat. Furthermore - the if the tanks moved over 6" to get into position, they could not be penetrated by attacks, only glanced, which gave a much lower chance to eliminate them. Also, any troops that did not auto-pass Leadership tests had to test to see if they freaked out and shot at the Devilfish instead of the troops behind it, as the Devilfish would invariably be the closest enemy unit - even units without any weapons actually able to hurt the tank could be forced into wasting fire at it. The rules have since been changed to eliminate Target Priority (removing the need to HAVE to shoot at the tank on a failed check), change how Line Of Sight is dealt with (removing the ability to see under them with no penalty) and adding in the 'Run' ability, which makes assault troops at least have an option when confronted with something they cannot get to in one turn.
Homestuck has two. The first is prototyping a First Guardian, which will result in every enemy the heroes face having First Guardian powers. And unfortunately, the most powerful enemy of all has no interest in following the rules of the game. The second is Lord English's "glitch", which will make an affected session impossible to win. Both of these can only be fixed by causing The Scratch, which is essentially a Reset Button of reality. However, the Scratch is not without consequences. Lord English utilizes his "glitch" as a calling card, and he will appear in the reset universe. His appearance on the Scratched Earth made it a Villain World.
Google Street View, as of 22 Apr 2013, gets the locations completely wrong, as there as no such place as Wigan District, etc. and sometimes misses out locations (e.g. 4851 American Blvd West United States), with the part about Minnesota being missing.
The virtual pet site Moshi Monsters once had a glitch where increases to your monster's health and happiness wouldn't stick; they'd appear to have increased at first, but if you left and returned later, you'd find that the additions weren't saved on top of them decreasing a little more over the course of the day. Fortunately, it's since been fixed.
The Mario Party TV group discovers a glitch within Crazy Cutter. The second you move whenever the glitch occurs, the game counts your movement as a small circle, causing you to fail the minigame with 0 points.